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Orphans of Nigeria building collapse reunited with relatives

The siblings, aged 18 months and two-years-old, were among the 25 survivors who returned home this morning.

The plane carrying 25 South Africans, including three children, who were injured in the Lagos building collapse more than week ago landed at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria on 22 September 2014. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Two siblings, whose parents died in the Nigerian building tragedy, will now be released into the care of their family.

The siblings, aged 18 months and two-years-old, were among the 25 survivors who returned home this morning.

A total of 26 South Africans survived the collapse at a guesthouse run by charismatic preacher TB Joshua.

Video: Victims return home.

The building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed on 12 September, killing 115 people, including 84 South Africans.

The collapse occurred when three extra storeys were being added to the existing two of a guest house of the church compound, where visitors from abroad flock to stay.

Twenty five people were flown back home this morning and touched down at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria.

Government says for now, the two orphans will stay in the care of the social workers who accompanied them on the flight from Nigeria.

One South African survivor turned down the opportunity to return home, instead choosing to stay in Nigeria and return to the church.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said government is now anxiously waiting for the outcome of the investigation into the collapse.

Radebe called today's operation a major milestone for the country and affected families.

EXTENT OF INJURIES REVEALED

Details have emerged about the extent of the injuries suffered by the victims of the collapse.

Government says one South African survivor has developed gangrene and doctors are in the process of amputating his toes.

The legs of three other survivors were amputated in Nigeria.

Radebe said a man who developed gangrene was the first patient to be rushed from the airport to the hospital this morning.

He said some patients also have minor injuries.

"Other have fractured ribs and another is in kidney failure and is on dialysis."

RELIEF AS SURVIVORS REUNITED WITH THEIR FAMILIES

The family of a woman who was trapped for two and a half days beneath the rubble of the Nigerian building that collapsed say they're relieved to finally see her alive after 10 days of panic, confusion and worry.

Ivy Langford is one of the 26 South Africans who survived when the guest house of the Synagogue Church of all Nations caved in.

The victims are being treated at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria after touching down on home soil this morning.

Her niece said she's happy to see her aunt alive having only sustained minor injuries after being trapped for more than 48 hours.

"Under the circumstances, she looks extremely well. Praise God."

She said the family feared that Langford may have lost her arm in the disaster.

"We heard that people lost limbs and she was complaining about her arm, it was trapped under two concrete rocks."

The families of all the survivors will only know on Thursday whether their loved ones will be discharged from hospital.

FAMILIES TO SEE VICTIMS FOR SHORT TIME

The families of the survivors will only be given a few minutes to see their loved ones.

They are anxiously waiting outside the emergency entrance to the facility.

Family members have been receiving counselling from the Department of Social Development.

Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said doctors are assessing the patients.

Bogopane-Zulu advised the families not to make physical contact with their loved ones until they have been screened for air-borne diseases.

"Everyone from Lagos is on a 48 hour lockdown."

Some of the families have brought flowers and gifts.

GOODLUCK JONATHAN VISITS SITE OF COLLAPSE

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visited the site of the collapse on Saturday, offering his condolences to Joshua, who has been the focus of anger among the South African public after he described the victims as "martyrs of faith" on his Facebook page.

Joshua and his supporters say the collapse was an "attack" somehow linked to a mysterious aircraft they say flew over the building before it fell down.

Analysts say Nigeria's church leaders are so influential that few politicians dare upset them, especially just before a national election, which Nigeria is due to hold in five months.

He did not mention the efforts of Nigerian emergency services or the church but said Nigeria was carrying out an investigation, although Jonathan has not announced any probe.

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