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Six victims of Lagos church building collapse still unidentified: pathologist

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Screen-shot-2012-04-17-at-7.29.40-AM-300x252Six people who died when a guesthouse for foreign followers of Nigerian preacher TB Joshua collapsed have yet to be identified more than six months after the tragedy, a pathologist said Friday.

“Six people are still left. They are yet to be identified,” Lagos state chief pathologist Professor John Obafunwa told a coroner’s inquest probing the cause of the September 12 collapse.

A total of 116 people were killed when the building came down at the sprawling site of Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Nigeria’s financial hub of Lagos.

Obafunwa said he suspected that the unidentified victims were foreigners, whose families were not aware that they were at the church at the time.

Joshua, a self-proclaimed miracle worker and televangelist, has blamed sabotage for the collapse but the inquest has been told that shoddy building work may have been to blame.

Obafunwa was giving evidence as he presented his final forensic report on the post-mortem examinations into the victims.

In all 81 South Africans died, with victims also from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Togo and Benin, as well as 22 Nigerians.

Sixty men and 56 women were killed in total, the pathologist said, adding that most of the victims suffered severe crush injuries and head injuries.

He rejected Joshua’s assertion of sabotage or explosion as the cause of the collapse.

“Even at their state of decomposition, there were no evidence of charred bodies, no evidence of carbon deposits in the lungs,” he added.

The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria last week said the collapse occurred because weak foundations could not support additional floors being added to the building.

But engineer Oladele Ogundeji, who supervised the construction for the church, told the hearing on Friday that the collapse could have not have been because of structural defects.

“The way the building collapsed is not synonomous (with) structural failure. In structural failure, you will see cracks but that was not the case in this one.

“Everything fell down at the same time. There was no problem with the foundation, the columns and beams. The correct specifications of materials were used.”

The hearing was adjourned until next Wednesday



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