At least 160 people have been reported dead after a roof collapsed in a Nigerian church on Saturday. It’s believed that the death toll will rise after rescuers continue to search through the rubble.
According to the Associated Press, the Reigners Bible Church International, which is in the city of Uyo, was under construction when workers began rushing to finish it in time for Saturday’s ceremony to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop. Hundreds were in the church for the event when the metal girders fell and the iron roof caved in.
Currently, a crane is being used to lift up debris in order to find more bodies.
“There were trapped bodies, parts of bodies, blood all over the place and people’s handbags and shoes scattered,” said computer analyst Ukeme Eyibio told the AP.
He added that he and three others dragged 10 wounded people from the outside of the collapsed church, but could not enter the main structure of the building. Eyibio said that while he saved a few people, all the death around him was incredibly devastating.
“I’m so traumatized I could not sleep last night for the horrors repeating themselves in my mind,” the 27-year-old said.
Journalists at the scene claim that church officials are trying to stop them from reporting on the tragedy by seizing their cameras and making them leave the area.
The governor’s spokesman, Ekerete Udoh, said the state government will investigate if any building standards were compromised. But these types of accidents are not rare in Nigeria, the AP points out, blaming it on corruption and contractors using substandard materials and bribing inspectors to ignore shoddy work or a lack of permits.