More than 100 killed in church collapse in Nigeria

Mortuaries overflowed with bodies Sunday from a church collapse in southern Nigeria that killed at least 160 people, and worshipers said construction of the building had been rushed.

Hundreds had been inside the Reigners Bible Church International in the city of Uyo on Saturday for the consecration of founder Akan Weeks as its bishop when the metal girders fell and the corrugated iron roof caved in.

Screaming survivors streamed out amid cries from the injured inside.

“There were trapped bodies, parts of bodies, blood all over the place and people’s handbags and shoes scattered,” said computer analyst Ukeme Eyibio.

Officials feared the death toll could rise. Weeks and Akwa Ibom state Gov. Udom Emmanuel were among the survivors.

Mortuaries in Uyo were overwhelmed by the disaster, medical director Etete Peters of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital told The Associated Press.

Many of the dead were taken to private mortuaries scattered across the city, said youth leader Edikan Peters. Some people were taking the bodies of relatives to their homes because of the overcrowding.

Peters said he counted 90 bodies removed from the church before he was stold to stop his tally Saturday night. Journalists also said that church officials sought to prevent them from documenting the tragedy, trying to seize cameras and forcing some to leave the area.

The church had been still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for Saturday’s ceremony, congregants said. The governor’s spokesman, Ekerete Udoh, said the state government will investigate if any building standards were compromised.

Buildings collapse often in Nigeria because of endemic corruption, with contractors using substandard materials and bribing inspectors to ignore shoddy work or a lack of permits.

In 2014, 116 people died when a multistory guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. Most victims were visiting South African followers of the megachurch’s influential founder T.B. Joshua.