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Published On: Tue, Sep 23rd, 2014

Death toll from church collapse in Nigeria rises to 115, South Africa seeks answers

The death toll from the collapse of a church buliding in Lagos, NIgeria has risen to 115, 84 of which are from South Africa, the South African government minister Jeff Radebe said on Monday. He is urging the heavily criticized Nigerian government to investigate the “tragedy.”

Radebe says the 84 South Africans were visiting and now is a “diplomatic rift” between the two African nations. The incident occurred on Sept. 12 and South Africans are angry at what they see as the Nigerian government dragging its feet on launching an investigation into the collapse.

Nigeria

Image/CIA

Nigerian emergency services said the total death toll was 86 and have refused to comment on nationalities of those who died. The rescue teams are under attack for not reacting more quickly to help those trapped under the rubble of building.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visited the site on Saturday, offering his condolences to Joshua, who has been the focus of South Africans’ anger after he described the victims as “martyrs of faith” on his Facebook page.

The fallen multistory building served as a shopping mall and guesthouse at the sprawling campus of televangelist T.B. Joshua‘s Synagogue, Church of All Nations, on the outskirts of Lagos and his supporters say the collapse was an “attack” somehow linked to a mysterious aircraft they say flew over the building before it fell down.

Analysts say Nigeria’s megachurch leaders are so influential that few politicians dare upset them, especially just before a national election, which Nigeria is due to hold in five months.

Radebe spent much of his news conference congratulating the work of South African emergency workers for the “biggest evacuation by the air force since the dawn of democracy.”

He did not mention the efforts of Nigerian emergency services or the church but said Nigeria was carrying out an investigation, although Jonathan has not announced any probe.

South Africa’s media has attacked Joshua and the Nigerian government, especially after the Nigerian emergency services said the church had failed to cooperate and had blocked rescuers’ access to the site.

“Blood on their hands” was the front-page headline of South Africa’s Sunday Times. Many Nigerians have also been critical.

“I very much hope that the South African government keeps up the pressure on the Nigerian authorities. What happened must not be allowed to be treated in a typical Nigerian fashion,” popular Nigerian columnist Tolu Ogunlesi wrote on Monday.

“Had it only been Nigerian lives lost in the collapsed building, the fuss would have been less. We would have moved on quicker. Because life in this country isn’t worth very much.”

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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