LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Rescue workers have recovered 46 bodies and rescued 130 survivors from a collapsed shopping mall and guesthouse at the campus of renowned Nigerian preacher T.B. Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations, the West African nation's emergency agency said Monday.
Joshua's church published a video purporting to show a plane flying low over the building four times before the structure collapsed on Friday. He told a church service Sunday that the building apparently was attacked by Islamic extremists who might have dropped a "chemical substance" from the aircraft.
But the spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, Ibrahim Farinloye, told The Associated Press the collapse likely was caused by construction to add two stories on top of the four-story structure without reinforcing the foundations. Nigeria's construction industry is bedeviled by endemic corruption that sometimes leads contractors to take short cuts and use substandard products that lead to building collapses.
People from around the world come to the church on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital in the southwest, to experience Joshua's preaching, prophecies and faith healing and to get his blessed water that some say has miraculous powers.
The collapsed building housed a shopping mall and restaurants on the ground floor and rooms for accommodation above.
Church members initially tried to impede rescue workers but that the problem was resolved Sunday night, said emergency services spokesman Farinloye, who added that the search would continue Tuesday for survivors and bodies in the pancaked ruins of cracked cement and twisted steel girders.
Associated Press writer Michelle Faul contributed to this report from Johannesburg.