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Synagogue tragedy: 120 church members rescued

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A total of 120 persons were rescued from the collapsed Synagogue Church of All Nations building in Ikotun, Lagos on Saturday evening.

The building collapsed on Friday at about 1pm.

A Lagos State Emergency Management Agency official said rescue operations at the site might last till Tuesday.

According to the LASEMA official, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to journalists, the effect of the collapse was massive.

The official added that 21 of the 120 were on admission at the emergency centre of Igando General Hospital.

The LASEMA official said some of the guests lodged in the guest house were having lunch on the ground floor at the time of the collapse.

He explained that the strong pillars at ground level were responsible for the survival of those rescued. The official added that though the survivors had been trapped under the debris for over 24 hours, the pillars kept them uncrushed. The source further said the rescuers had to create holes in several parts of the debris to enable the survivors escape.

Rescue teams included the National Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross.

One of the survivors, a woman, after being pulled out from under the rubble, shouted, “Thank you Jesus, the God of T.B. Joshua is alive. I can go back to South Africa alive.”

Another, a male carried on a stretcher, was seen clapping happily.

Ambulances were seen moving in quick succession to and from the site. The vehicles made multiple trips with rescued victims on board.

No less than 25 persons were rescued by the LASEMA and the National Emergency Management Agency, during the period our correspondents were on the church grounds on Saturday.

The pastor of the church, Temitope Joshua, attributed the cause of the collapse to a mysterious helicopter flying repeatedly over the building.

Showing a three-minute video clip to journalists in Lagos on Saturday, Joshua claimed the helicopter might have been responsible for the six-storey guest house collapse.

He said, “I was at the mountain yesterday, where I went to pray. After praying, I slept off there. The place is about five minutes from here. I left around 9 am. They called me that there was a plane trying to land, I told them not to worry; that only a helicopter can land, but they said they were worried that it was coming too close to the building and that maybe it was taking pictures.

“The same plane went around Ikotun. To our surprise, after moving round Ikotun, it came back on top of this building four times. There is a surveillance camera in here. We have a role to play; we cannot leave everything to God.”

When asked about the time interval between the the helicopter flew over the building and when the building collapsed, a church representative kept quiet.

Joshua said many who listened to his sermon last week Sunday must be wondering if he had seen a ‘revelation,’ because, he had encouraged his church members not to trust in their possession but the Giver of the possessions.

The pastor also said some months ago, he reported that a member of the Islamic extremist sect, Boko Haram, was apprehended in his church, but the Lagos State Government did not believe it.

He also said few months ago, the church sighted an aerial surveillance camera hovering above the church. He said members of the church knocked it down and brought it to him.

Joshua also argued that the number of dead persons was less than 10.

However, one of our correspondents who visited the Isolo General Hospital’s mortuary on Saturday counted, at least, 22 dead bodies from the church’s collapsed building.

A mortuary official, who spoke with our correspondent under the condition of anonymity, claimed that more corpses were taken to General Hospital, Gbagada, and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.

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