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Nigeria collapse: 26 injured South Africans to return home

A chartered flight carrying the 26 injured people including three children, will land this morning.

Rescue workers clear away mattresses used by occupants of the collapsed guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) at Ikotun in Lagos on 17 September, 2014. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - A chartered flight carrying 26 people injured in the Nigerian building tragedy was expected to touch down at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria at 7am this morning.

But officials say it's been delayed.

While officials could not provide any reason for the delay, at least four emergency services vehicles have now entered the premises.

The media has been stationed outside the entrance to base from early this morning and armed officials are also guarding the entrance, not allowing media inside the base for now.

The flight landed in Lagos on Sunday, carrying a team of specialist aviation medical personnel who are caring for the injured on the 10-hour flight.

The injured were tracked down by another government team sent to Lagos after the six-storey guest house at the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed more than a week ago.

Eighty-four South Africans lost their lives in the collapse.

The families of the 26 South Africans coming home today will see their loved ones for the first time since the tragedy happened.

Leader of the government task team on the collapse, Jeff Radebe, says a specialised evacuation team has been sent to facilitate their return.

"A mass casualty aero-medical evacuation team is equipped to treat critically injured patients and provide care during the 10-hour flight back to South Africa."

Radebe says after the flight lands the injured will be transported to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.

"All patients will be admitted to the Steve Biko Hospital, where they will be assessed prior to being transferred to the hospital of their choice or being discharged."

He also says the number of those injured could increase as more South Africans are identified in hospitals in Lagos.

Three children are among the group of who will arrive on a flight carrying survivors of the collapse this morning.

Two siblings who are aged two and 18-months were left orphaned after their parents were killed in the collapse.

Radebe says a four-year-old is also accompanying the siblings on the flight home.

He says the children sustained injuries, but will be well taken care of on the 10-hour journey.

"Extra measures were taken to provide care and comfort to the injured, including three children on board. A donated teddy bear pack with toys will be handed to each child when they board the aircraft."

He says the process of identifying the deceased has not yet been completed and South Africans who were also injured may not be on board this morning's flight because they've not yet been reached by authorities in Lagos.