Synagogue building collapse: Nigeria, South Africa differ on death toll

South African President, Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa announced, Tuesday, that 67 of his countrymen perished in the collapsed building at The Synagogue church in Lagos.

The collapsed building inside the church’s premises was a five-storey building which initially was two-storey and the church decided to add three additional floors on it.

“I am greatly saddened to announce that 67 South Africans died and scores of others sustained injuries, after a building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed on Friday, 12 September 2014, in Lagos, in the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Mr. Zuma said in a statement.

Mr. Zuma’s casualty figures, however, differed markedly from that of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Nigeria’s emergency rescue unit which had been on the scene since the day of the incident.

According to NEMA, total death toll as at Tuesday evening totalled 63 deaths and 131 people rescued with “more likely to be recovered.”

Rescue workers on Monday deployed three police sniffer dogs at the accident scene to assist in the search of trapped bodies.

It is unclear how the South Africans arrived at their casualty figures.

Mr. Zuma described the incident as a difficult time for South Africa.

“Not in the recent history of our country have we had this large number of our people die in one incident outside the country,” Mr. Zuma said.

“Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues that have lost their loved ones in this heart-breaking tragedy. The whole nation shares the pain of the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who have lost their loved ones. We are all in grief.

“As we mourn this sudden and tragic death of our fellow compatriots, I have directed the relevant Government departments and entities to act with the utmost urgency to ensure that we facilitate the movement of relevant family members to Nigeria to identify the bodies of their loved ones and to ensure that we repatriate the remains as soon as possible under the circumstances,” he added.

When contacted, Ibrahim Farinloye, NEMA’s South-West spokesperson, declined to react to Mr. Zuma’s casualty figures.

“When we finish, everybody will know the total and who belongs where,” Mr. Farinloye said.


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  • Thompson |Ighalo

    NEMa needs to offer an explanation on the discrepancy on the death toll between its Nigeria and SA report

  • Chris1408

    This Nigerian government lie about everything. There’s absolutely no truth in anything they say. Even something that’s not worth lying about, they lie about it. Anyway when is the fake prophet gonna be arrested for the building collapse? I guess never. “Nigeria we hail thee”

    • Dan Fulani

      How can you arrest a C.A.N member? Not in Nigeria.

  • Pere Damaka

    There is an urgent need to remove the spirit of lies in Nigerian government officials. I was born 38 years ago and i am not married due to the painful spells of un-employment caused by the massive thefts of public funds by state and federal government officials.

    Since i was born i cannot recall any instance of truth-telling by any state or federal administration in Nigeria. Pope Francis at the Vatican only recently warned of the consequence of lies-telling by supposed Nigerian elders whom i refuse to ever acknowledge as Leaders. Pope Francis said where the spirit of deceit lies is; there the spirit of God cannot be.

    This explains why Nigeria earns more money from crude oil but with 50 million young men, like myself, walking the streets; without hope, without money and without a future. I am not threatening, but if this chronic situation persists i shall not go down alone. I shall form or join a violent revolutionary movement to bring extreme pains and sorrows to the families of the government officials who’ve ruined our lives.

    • Chris1408

      We don’t need violence my brother, we need to educate our people. We need to flush out the current ruling class and those that have collaborated with them. Replace them with patriots that can move the country forward. But we’ve the minds of our people for that to happen

      • Chuks

        We may actually need violence because Nigeria’s government officials are addicted to thefts.
        Volumes of ethical sermons in the scriptures do not persuade them at all to change their ways.
        “Only a bloody revolution can save Nigeria”, Professor Ben Nwabueze said last year with clear thought.
        And i must tell you here that i agree with Professor Nwabueze because nothing else can bring change.

  • Myson

    When will Lagos state government arrest T.B. Joshuah, the builders and prosecute them for Murder or for Manslaughter. T. B. Joshuah in violation of City building code deliberately allowed a foundation made for two story building for 5 story building. If this same thing happened in Korea, T. B. Joshuah would have committed suicide by now if he does not want to summit himself to state for prosecution for Murder. Are we living in a state with rule of law? Please Governor Fashola enforce the law of the state.

    • agu

      I guess you comment without personal feelings, you hate tb joshua but thats not the case here.
      we want to know what was the cause of the collapse , why was that helicopter circling that building for? I mean same helicopter circled a building 4 times within an hour and closer each time. There simple chemicals that can cause that building to collapse with 20 minutes , that we are supposed to be after to know the truth and stop such evil from happening again. Not to hate an innocent man

    • adepoju

      may GOD for give you