December 12, 2016 / 11:36 PM / 9 months ago

Nigeria sends surgeons to treat people injured in church collapse

People seeking their loved ones are seen at the venue of the collapsed church building in Uyo, Nigeria December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

UYO, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigeria rushed plastic surgeons and other specialists on Monday to a city in the south to treat more than one hundred people injured when a church collapsed in one of the worst recent building accidents in the West African country.

“We ... raised a team of experts to come to Uyo and render a helping hand and bring succor to the weak, the sick and those who are in dire need of complicated surgery,” Suleiman Giwa, head of the surgeons, told reporters at Uyo’s biggest hospital.

Two residents have told Reuters that at least 100 people were killed in the collapse in Uyo during a service on Saturday. Officials have said the death toll is around 32. Some 115 people were injured, according to emergency agency NEMA.

Buildings collapses occur frequently in Nigeria and are often blamed on lack of construction permits and the use of cheap materials. Critics have said that authorities tend to understate the death toll at such accidents.

“It was by His grace that I am alive today,” said Grace Okonita, a mother of four who survived the collapse. “I lost one leg and my hand is broken.”

Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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