Some of the survivors of Saturday’s collapsed church building in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, have recounted their ordeal, saying they escaped by the grace of God.
Reigners Bible Church International’s building collapsed during a service, killing many worshippers and leaving several others wounded.
Governor Udom Emmanuel was the special guest of honour at the special service to inaugurate a bishop. He was there with some of his commissioners and special advisers.
Some of the victims of the disaster are receiving treatment at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH).
One of the victims, Mr. Thompson Emmanuel, who hailed from Abak, said he could not understand why the building collapsed on the worshippers.
Emmanuel, 32, is a Personal Assistant to the Special Adviser to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Bureau of Cooperative and Rural Development, Mr. Ekemini Umoh
He said: “I may not actually know what caused the building to collapse on us. We were inside there and the governor was there. The building collapsed on us all. Many were trapped.
“That is why I am here in the hospital. I can’t reach my boss now to know where he is because so many people were affected.”
Another victim, Mrs. Victory Edet, 31, from Itu Local Government Area, said a friend invited her to the church for the ordination of Pastor Akan Weeks.
Mrs Edet said: “Somebody invited me to the church; so when we got there, we sat down. A few minutes later the governor came.
“We welcomed the governor. After the congregation finished welcoming the governor, they called the choir to render a song. It was not up to 10 minutes that the house just collapsed.”
Mrs Edet, who was with her daughter Success, said she sat under the canopy with her baby before the building collapsed on them.
She said: “Before we knew what was happening, everybody was running. I was sitting under the canopy with my baby in my hands when the building suddenly collapsed. The canopy fell on top of me and hit my baby and me.
“The person that I came with collected the baby from me. I don’t know how I managed to escape from the scene. The only thing I can remember is that I saw myself outside. Somebody helped me and took me to the hospital. I collected somebody’s phone to call my husband.
“When my husband came to see me in the hospital, I was not with my baby. Doctors asked my husband to check different hospitals where patients were taken to for my baby. So my baby was found in one of the hospitals. The name of the baby is Success Edet.”
Miss Esther Akpan from Itu Local Government Area said it was after the congregation had sat down after greeting the governor that the building suddenly collapsed.
Miss Akpan, 28, said she was in the company of her uncle’s children when the incident occurred.
She said: “I am a student in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I came with my uncle to the church because I am staying with him here. He is a member of Reigners Bible Church. My uncle’s name is Mr. George Akpan.
“We were in the church. Everybody was singing. They said we should stand up to greet the governor. Everybody stood up and later they said we should sit down and we continued in singing praises.
“Before we knew what was happening, the church building just collapsed. I wanted to run with some of the children. They are my uncle’s children. Two boys, I tried to escape with them; before I knew what was happening, my leg was trapped and I was crying and shouting for help. Nothing happened to the children.”