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Thousands attended the ordination of a well-known Pentecostal leader. The President of the State is among the survivors.
Between 50 and 160 worshippers died on Saturday during a special event organised by a Pentecostal church in the Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom (south of the country).
Thousands attended the ordination service of Bishop Akan Weeks, the leader of Reigners’ Bible Church Int’l Inc.
The building collapsed during the service, while the crowd was singing, testimonies said.
Works on the site were the event was held were rushed because of Saturday’s event, sources told Nigerian news website Punch News. Security operatives cordoned the area and denied journalists access.
“I saw over 100 dead bodies. These were the ones close to me”, a university student attending the service said. “People came from other churches in all parts of the state. For some of us that escaped, we only did by the special grace of God”.
The Governor of the State of Akwa Ibom was also attending the service. He was not injured, his office confirmed.
The office of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, issued a statement saying: “In praying for the repose of the souls of the deceased and the quick recovery of the injured, President Buhari implored the people of the state, especially those in the catchment area of the incident to rally around the victims of the tragedy to help ease their sorrow and pains”.
On Monday, the church issued a press release on their Facebook site, saying: “We share in the agony, pain and anguish of the injured, traumatized and deceased worshippers and guests as a result of the unfortunate collapse of the roof structure during the aborted Bishopric Enthronement Service of our General Overseer; Apostle Akan Weeks (…) The Church is reaching out to the afflicted in various hospitals to hold hands, pray and identify with them in this painful and sorrowful moment in the Body of Christ”.
Other Pentecostal churches urged believers to pray for the families and give blood and material help.