Indications emerged on Tuesday that more people than the bodies so far recovered died in the collapsed building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations last Friday as the South African President, Mr. Jacob Zuma, announced that 67 South Africans were victims of the incident.
“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”, Zuma said in statement.
The official death toll by the National Emergency Management Agency (NAMA) as at Tuesday night was 63, while 131 were rescued alive.
It was learnt that no fewer than five South African church tour groups were at the Synagogue at the time of the collapse.
“Not in the recent history of our country have we had this large number of our people die in one incident outside the country.
“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”, President Zuma said.
The South African president said he had ordered government departments to help family members get to Nigeria to identify the bodies of their loved ones, and repatriate the remains as soon as possible.