The New York Times reports…
“Funeral homes overflowed with bodies on Sunday, one day after a church collapsed in southern Nigeria, killing at least 160 people, according to a hospital official.
Hundreds of worshipers had been inside the Reigners Bible Church International in the city of Uyo on Saturday for the consecration of a church founder, Akan Weeks, as its bishop when the building’s metal girders fell and its corrugated iron roof caved in. The church was still under construction, and workers had been rushing to finish it when it collapsed, congregants said.
Screaming survivors streamed out amid cries from the injured inside.
“There were trapped bodies, parts of bodies, blood all over the place and people’s handbags and shoes scattered,” one witness, Ukeme Eyibio, said.
Mortuaries in Uyo were overwhelmed by the disaster, said Etete Peters, medical director of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, who put the number of dead at about 160. Officials said they feared that the death toll could rise.
Mr. Weeks and another congregant, Gov. Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, were among the survivors.
The governor’s spokesman, Ekerete Udoh, said the state government would investigate to see whether any building standards were compromised.
Buildings collapse often in Nigeria because of endemic corruption, with contractors using substandard materials and bribing inspectors to ignore shoddy work or a lack of permits.
Mr. Eyibio had parked his car outside the complex to make a phone call when he heard a deafening crash and saw that the church had disappeared.
He and three others dragged 10 injured people from an overflow area for worshipers just outside the church. They did not enter the main structure because a construction worker warned that it was not safe.
While waiting for a crane to help lift debris off bodies, Mr. Eyibio, 27, a computer analyst, helped a man whose legs were trapped under a girder.
“I rushed to my car, got out the tire jack and used that to get the beam off his legs,” he said by telephone.
“We managed to get him out, but we saw others dying all around us,” he added. “I’m so traumatized I could not sleep last night for the horrors repeating themselves in my mind.”
Many of the dead were taken to private mortuaries scattered across the city, said a youth leader, Edikan Peters. Some people were taking the bodies of relatives to their homes because of the overcrowding.
Mr. Peters said he counted 90 bodies removed from the church before he was told to stop his tally Saturday night. Journalists also said church officials sought to prevent them from documenting the disaster, trying to seize cameras and forcing some to leave the area.
In 2014, more than 110 people died when a multistory guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. Most victims were visiting South African followers of the mega-church’s influential founder, T. B. Joshua.
Two structural engineers, Mr. Joshua and church trustees were accused of criminal negligence and involuntary manslaughter after a coroner found that the building had collapsed from structural failures caused by design and detailing errors. Efforts to bring them to court have been foiled by repeated legal challenges.”