Governor’s aide reported dead in collapsed Uyo church building •Eyewitnesses speak; death toll put at 50-200

Posted by News Express | 11 December 2016 | 3,279 times

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One of the aides of Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel has been reported to be among victims of the tragic collapse, on Saturday, of Reigners Bible Church International located along Uyo Village road in Uyo, the state capital.

“No fewer than two of Udom’s commissioners and another aide were said to have been seriously injured. An unconfirmed report said one of the aides died. Journalists were also said to be among the victims,” says Sunday Vanguard in a report published this morning.

It adds that conflicting accounts put the death toll at between 50 and 200. Governor Emmanuel and the church founder, Apostle Akan Weeks, were among the survivors.

Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relation Officer, ASP Cordelia Nwawe, said that she could not confirm the casualty figure since rescue operations were ongoing. She said that security operatives had been drafted to maintain law and order at the scene and prevent hoodlums from cashing-in on the situation.

“Rescue team members are doing their best to rescue all the victims trapped at the collapsed building. We cannot tell you the exact number of casualties now as the rescue operations are on,” she said.

The rescue operations, led by the state Commissioner for Works, Mr Ephraim Inyang-Eyan, were on-going at press time. The rescue team at scene is made up of workers of Julius Berger Construction Company, the police, army, Fire Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Medical Association and the Federal Road Safety Corps.

Eye witnesses said the building, under construction, collapsed around 11 am, about 30 minutes into the programme to enthrone the church founder, Apostle Akan Weeks, as bishop.

An eye witness said: “I saw Apostle Weeks, Governor Emmanuel and other officials escape through the vestry, while the roof fell on some of the people, who did not know what happened.”

Another eye witness stated: “When we were about taking offering, 30 minutes after the governor came in, the building caved in. Security operatives took him away.”

Government House, Uyo Correspondent of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Uyo, Mr Uko Ima, who also survived the tragedy, narrated that a loud sound from the roof of the church building proceeded the collapse. “Within seconds after the loud sound, the roof caved in and trapped scores of the worshippers,” Ima stated.

The journalist, who is a member of the church, explained that two of his kids sustained serious injuries in the building collapse and one of them, David, 2, was admitted at St. Luke Hospital, Annua while Benita, 5, was receiving treatment at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), Uyo.

Miss Uduak Effiong, also an eye witness, said a female victim’s bowel was ripped open by the tragedy. Effiong, who is a communication arts student of the University of Uyo, said she lost three friends to the incident.

One of the governor’s  aides, Mr. Aniekeme Finbarr Ukpong, who moderated the event at the church service, thanked God for saving his life. “I thank God for saving me. I also thank those who called to check upon me. I was the moderator at the service and I am beyond being grateful to God,” Ukpong said.

•Photo shows the collapsed Reigners Bible Church International, Uyo.

Source: News Express

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