At least three people are feared to have been killed after an uncompleted Guest House belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nation collapsed Friday afternoon at the headquarters of the church in the Ikotun area of Lagos.
Officials and witnesses said the death toll could rise as rescue effort progresses.
The spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, said the building, which was initially a two-storey complex, was being refurbished with three additional floors already added to it when it collapsed at about 1 p.m.
Emergency officials raced to the scene but three people were already dead before their arrival, Mr Farinloye said.
Fifteen people were however rescued alive, and rescue effort was still ongoing as at the time of this report.
Mr Farinloye said several others are still trapped underneath the building.
The General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Tolu Oke-Osanyintolu, declined to provide casualty figures but said 20 injured people had been evacuated to hospital.
“At least 20 injured people has been taken to the General Hospital,” Mr. Oke-Osanyintolu said. “The operation is still ongoing. You can hear the sound of siren in the background. We cannot tell you the number of deaths now. the operation is still on-going. It is a sympathetic issue so we cannot say the number of deaths until we conclude the rescue operation.”
Gbenga Famakinde, a resident of the area, who was at the scene of the accident told PREMIUM TIMES over the telephone that the building was meant to be a Guest House for worshipers who visit the church.
He said although still under construction, the building provided shed for church members who at times relax there when church activities are not going on.
“It was an hotel beside the church. the building is still under construction but people sit under the decking of the building for refreshment and whatever. So when the thing fell it was serious,” he said.
Mr Famakinde figure of the casualties was however way beyond the figure given by NEMA.
“If I’m not exaggerating, at least I counted at least 17 to 18 ambulance and each of the ambulance carried at least 10 corpses.”
Mr. Famakinde said the scene of the accident is so rowdy that policemen were having a tough time dispersing the large crowd of people that gathered after the building collapsed.
“The police are shooting into the air to chase people away from the place.”
The NEMA spokesperson said “church members have been very aggressive and tried attacking emergency responders.”
The Synagogue Church is a popular worship centre in Nigeria, attracting thousands of people, mostly those seeking miracles and spiritual healing, from around the world.
Its founder, Temitope Joshua, is also well known for prophesying future tragic events.
More details later..