Tuesday, October 28, 2014 9:03 pm
A pathologist on Tuesday ruled out claims of an explosion as the cause of a fatal building collapse at the Synagogue church of Pastor T.B. Joshua, in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, saying none of the victims had blast injuries. His testimony corroborated an earlier one by the chief fire fighter of Lagos state.
“Bodies were mutilated, severe crush, head injuries, fractured bones, fractured ribs,” Lagos state chief medical examiner Professor John Obafunwa told the coroner’s inquest.
“We had some badly dismembered bodies. But I would not say it was because of explosion. No fire.”
TB Joshua had claimed that sabotage, possibly from a low-flying aircraft, was to blame for the building collapse at his Synagogue Church of All Nations.
But building inspectors have said the likely cause of the September 12 tragedy was the addition of extra floors on the guesthouse without strengthening the foundations.
The inquest heard that 116 people died in total, 84 of them South Africans, revising the death toll upwards by one.
Obafunwa told the court that the bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition before they could be removed from the debris of the stricken guesthouse.
“In a tropical environment, decomposition could set in within 12 hours. From autopsy we have reason to suggest traumatic factor as the cause of death and this is as a result of crush,” he added.
The pathologist’s evidence comes after a Lagos State firefighter told the hearing last Friday that there was no evidence of an explosion at the site.
The southwest coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, also said there was no indication of the use of explosives.
Joshua, a self-styled miracle worker and seer who counts presidents among his followers who call him “The Prophet” or “The Man of God”, has been summoned to give evidence on 5 November.
Meanwhile, the court heard that identification of the bodies, some of which took a week to extract from the rubble, is still not complete.
Obafunwa said DNA samples were taken to help identify the victims and his final report should be ready by the second week of November.
Anthony Van Der Byl, a South African who lost his wife in the collapse, said he was distressed at the time being taken to identify the bodies.
“It’s painful for me and my family to wait for more than one and half months without the body of my wife. I can’t take it anymore,” he told the hearing.
Pretoria’s top diplomat in Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, who attended the hearing said he hoped that cross-checking of DNA samples sent from South Africa would be finished soon.
The inquest was adjourned until Wednesday.