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Nigeria collapse: TB Joshua’s church releases statement

The ‘prophet’ Joshua’s church has hit back at allegations it’s refused to cooperate with authorities.

Nigerian preacher and prophet TB Joshua. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - TB Joshua's church in Nigeria has issued a statement hitting back at accusations it refused to cooperate with authorities and emergency crews after Friday's deadly building collapse.

At least 67 South Africans were crushed to death when a residential building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria collapsed last week.

At least 17 dead bodies were recovered from the rubble on Wednesday to add to the 63 dead bodies removed previously, bringing it to 80 the number of deaths so far, while rescue operations continue.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye told Eyewitness News that more dead bodies are still expected to be removed from the rubble.

"Up to now emergency management has not estimated or given us any leads of people trapped so we are just working on a plan."

While rescue and recovery efforts continue at the site, several others have been injured.

The church says it is working closely with South African and Nigerian governments, emergency services and relief agencies and is following diplomatic protocol.

It has once again mentioned an aircraft flying over the church moments before the collapse, saying that 'God will reveal the perpetrators of this unfortunate tragedy'.

The claim that this may have been a terror attack has been widely dismissed, with the focus remaining on poor or illegal construction.

The church has sent its 'heart-felt commiserations' to the families of those who have died.

[Click here to read the full statement]

The Lagos State Executive Council says investigators are collecting building material samples from the site of the building collapse, as the structure was apparently being renovated when it came down.

The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde, says there's no evidence that the Synagogue Church of All Nations secured proper approval for the renovations.

"The material testing lab will give us a report to determine whether the foundation was responsible because what we saw there looks like a controlled demolition. But this we have to confirm."

VICTIMS FAMILIES GATHER AT OR TAMBO

At OR Tambo International Airport, families with missing loved ones in Nigeria are once again anticipating their arrival.

South Africans who survived the building collapse started returning home on Wednesday and more flights are expected to arrive this morning.

Anxious families are leaning over the rails at the international arrivals terminal, trying to spot any sign of their loved ones returning home safely.

Many of the people who are still missing have not made contact with their families in South Africa, leading to some arriving at OR Tambo, hoping for the best.

Two flights have already landed and some have been reunited with their families.

But others have since left the airport, saying they'll be back on Friday morning.

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