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Nigerian church collapse kills 200 people

AAP logoAAP 10/12/2016

At least 200 people are feared dead after a church building collapse in Nigeria's southern state of Akwa Ibom at the weekend.

Etete Peters, director of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, told journalists that up to 200 people died in the Saturday collapse.

However, the Akwa Ibom Medical Association placed the figure much lower, at closer to 21.

The exact number of fatalities is still unknown as rescue workers search through the rubble.

Hundreds of people were packed into the recently built Reigners Bible Church International for the ordination of the church's leader, Akan Weeks, as bishop.

Among them was Akwa Ibom state Governor Udom Emmanuel, who escaped unharmed.

Other survivors spoke of confusion.

"There was a sound like that of rainfall ... Initially I thought it came from the giant loudspeakers. And, as people were wondering what was happening, the entire building came down," Ime Umanna, a university student attending the service, told dpa.

"I was close to the side entrance and I managed to rush out."

"The heavy metal used for the roofing of the church came down heavily on people, crushing many. It was a horrible sight," she said.

Okon Ukpong, a veteran journalist who was on the scene, said dozens of people were trapped under the debris, dying before help could arrive.

Ukpong said he could see no emergency equipment in the building.

"It was indeed a black Saturday for us here," he said.

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