Over 200 South Africans survived the building collapse at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) in Lagos, South Africa’s High Commissioner in Nigeria said on Thursday.
“There are 265 South African survivors. Initially there were 96 injured South Africans, but now there are only 29 still in hospital, including a three-year-old child,” Lulu Mnguni said in a telephone interview.
The rest of the injured had been discharged. Most of them were women.
Seventeen South Africans were still unaccounted for, he said.
Mnguni confirmed President Jacob Zuma’s announcement that 67 South Africans had died, but said a process was still underway to identify the deceased.
He described a grim picture in Lagos where families were frantically scouring hospitals and mortuaries searching for loved ones.
“The atmosphere is calm, there is no tension. But families don’t know where their loved ones are. They are visiting morgues and hospitals,” he said.
On Thursday Mnguni and teams from South Africa and the media were also preparing to visit mortuaries and hospitals.
A Scoan multi-storey guesthouse collapsed on Friday, killing scores of people. The church is led by “prophet” TB Joshua.
Meanwhile, news reports quoted the National Emergency Management Agency in Nigeria as saying the death toll was 80 in total and that 131 survivors had been pulled from the rubble.
Scoan blamed the tragedy on an aircraft that was seen near its building.
“This incident was preceded by the appearance of a strange aircraft which flew very low over the building, four times and then disappeared,” it said in a statement.
“The church views this tragedy as part of an attack on Scoan and in particular prophet TB Joshua. In due course God will reveal the perpetrators of this unfortunate tragedy.”
On its Facebook page, TB Joshua Ministries posted a comment and a photograph from a South African identified as Shadrack Mamzini, a visitor to Scoan.
“Last Friday, I wanted to take some pictures of The Synagogue buildings… I saw a very big aircraft. It was something which was unusual in the way it looked. It did not look like a passenger plane or an ordinary plane,” the comment stated.
“By the time the incident happened and the man of God spoke about what happened, I went back to check all the photos I had taken. I zoomed in on this picture where I saw the aircraft clearly.”