41 Killed, 140 Injured in Building Collapse at Nigerian Megachurch Guest House

( [email protected] ) Sep 15, 2014 04:13 PM EDT
Nigeria Church Building Collapse
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria. The building was being extended, adding three additional floors when it collapsed. (AP/Sunday Alamba)

41 people are reportedly dead after a guest house under construction at the Lagos headquarters of one of Nigeria's best-known Christian evangelical pastors collapsed on Sunday.

Some 140 persons have been rescued alive with 41 casualties as search and rescue operations continue," Farioye Ibrahim, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

On Friday, a guesthouse at Nigeria's international Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed on Friday afternoon in the Ikotun suburb of Lagos in what owner 'Prophet' T.B. Joshua claimed was a "terrorist attack as the building crashed just minutes after a helicopter hovered around" the giant church, which was frequently attended by thousands of members.

Yahoo News reports that In the security camera footage, apparently from opposite the vast church compound, what is described as an aircraft is seen over the building four times at 11:30 am (1030 GMT), 11:43 am, 11:45 and 11:54 am.

The uncompleted building, five floors of which are visible above a high wall, is then seen to collapse at 12:44 pm, throwing up clouds of dust into the air.

"After the incident, the strange aircraft does not return," a commentary adds.

NEMA has called for investigation into the standards adopted for the construction work, saying that the collapsed building was having two floors being added to it "without fortification of initial foundation for the former structure."

"This may have a high probability of having caused the building to collapse," it added.

The agency had accused members of the church yesterday of "obstructing and harassing" rescue workers and preventing emergency officials from participating in the rescue, making it difficult to establish a toll for the dead and injured. State rescuers were finally allowed in on Saturday, reports the World Bulletin.

Prophet T.B. Joshua preaches to massive crowds at the megachurch every week and, according to his website, SCOAN "hosts thousands of national and international visitors" each year.

"People travel from around the world to witness and receive from the mighty work that God is doing in the life of Prophet TB Joshua," it states.