Thursday, 18 September 2014

Synagogue Church Collapsed Building: Death Toll Hits 80, 300 South Africans Plausibly In Synagogue

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said that no fewer than 80 bodies had been evacuated from the site.
The South West Information Officer of NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, confirmed that about 5p.m., 17 more bodies were recovered, bringing the total number to 80. None has been rescued alive in the last 24 hours. The number of survivors, however, remains 131.

This is coming as South African Government spokesman Mac Maharaj said the government believed around 300 South Africans from four to five groups were visiting the church last Friday but it was not clear how many were on the spot when the tragedy struck.

“It’s a very popular church with South Africans,” Maharaj said, adding that the regular influx of visitors from abroad for the church’s services, which can last up to a week, creates demand for accommodation that the church’s own guest house has been unable to meet, and often spills over into local hotels.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lateef Ibirogba told The Guardian Wednesday that the government would not preempt cause of the incident, but leave all options open until the investigation has been completed.

Ibirogba said this as his counterpart in ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde, reiterated that the Six-floor Guest House of the Synagogue Church for All Nations did not have building approval. Ayinde added that there was however, no plan to shut the premises.

Ibirogba said the investigating team is currently examining all probable causes, adding that the government was not unaware of “the attempt to colour our perception by attributing the incident to Boko Haram.”
He hinted that the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development had demanded from officials of the Synagogue Church to present documents of approvals on the collapsed structure as part of the
investigation.

Ibirogba said: “The government will make her position known once all of these possibilities have been examined. Now, we are not pre-empting anything to make statement in haste. As you know, rescue efforts are still ongoing and still inconclusive. It is all part of the process we are considering,” he said.

Ayinde stressed that no plans were in the offing to take over the collapsed structure site until thorough and
detailed investigation as to the cause(s) of the collapse has been concluded. He stressed that Government does not arbitrarily take over properties when investigation is still on going.
He noted that government is conducting a preliminary investigation into the cause(s) of the collapse and would leave no stone unturned and if there is any violation of relevant planning law, residents are assured that government would take appropriate action.

On the veracity of the “Strange Plane Theory”, alleged to have dangerously flown low over the building fifty
minutes before the collapse, the Ministry had submitted the video clips, as provided by the Church to the
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) with the coordinate of the collapsed site for investigation and professional comment.

On the statement credited to President Jacob Zuma that no fewer than 67 South Africans perished in the building collapse, Ibirogba said the basis on which the statement had been made is still unknown and could not be validated as correct or incorrect until investigation had been completed.

The commissioner for physical planning expressed condolences and sympathy with those that lost their loved ones and those that were injured in the unfortunate incident.
He said the government and indeed the Ministry was particularly saddened that innocent lives were lost.
President Jacob Zuma had said at least 67 South Africans died in Friday’s accident at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos and described it as one of the worst tragedies in South Africa’s recent history.
Zuma’s tally however, conflicted with that of the NEMA.

There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy. Pretoria described the search and rescue operation as “very fluid” but defended the credibility of its count of 67 dead, saying it was based on records and information on the ground from five tour groups that had arranged for South African worshippers to go to Lagos.

“This number is based on credible information,” foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said.
Late on Tuesday Zuma told the SABC national broadcaster that an unknown number of South Africans were “not yet accounted for” and that the nation needed to “grieve together.”

  - The Guardian