Disaster struck the Ugolo community in Delta State as the Catholic church in the community, the St. Paul Catholic Church, collapsed in the early hour of Sunday, just the Sunday worship was on.
Parishioners were attending mass at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Ugolo, in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State, when a section of the building collapsed.
The Delta State Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Mustafa, confirmed that one person died in the incident, while many others sustained injuries.
A 11-year-old boy who died in the building collapse was identified as Jeffrey Jackson, and was said to have been trapped while trying to escape from the building as it collapsed.
He said: “Yes, a Catholic church. There’s only one death; an 11-year-old boy. The other victims are in different hospitals now receiving treatment. I can’t confirm how many of them are injured now; they are scattered in different hospitals. There’s nobody still trapped under the rubble.”
According to eyewitnesses, the service was just just starting off, although the officiating cleric was yet to arrive.
However, worshippers had already assembled and were doing initial service rituals when the building collapsed.
It was also gathered that no church member was still trapped under the rubble of the collapsed walls, as all those inside escaped unhurt, except for the deceased and the five injured persons.
An eyewitness, Miss Elohor Amerotoraine, said members were holding initial service rituals, awaiting the arrival of the officiating priest, when they started observing cracks.
She said: “I was inside the church when it happened. It was between 7:30am and 8am. We are under Orerokpe, so they posted a seminarian to us. The seminarian had not yet arrived when it happened. We had just finished reciting the rosary and were singing some hymns, when we suddenly started hearing the wall cracking and falling.
“At that point everybody started running out to escape the falling walls. Before long, the entire church had collapsed. It even killed someone; a boy of about 11 years of age. The five persons who were injured have been taken to the hospital.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Delta State governor, Charles Aniagwu, confirmed the incident in a statement released on behalf of governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
He described the church collapse as “very sad and unfortunate”.
The statement read: “On behalf of the Government and people of Delta State, I commiserate with the family of the deceased and those injured, the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Chairman of Okpe Local Government Council, Chief Julius Scott, the Orodje of Okpe, HRM, Orhue 1, Major Gen. Felix Mujakperuo (retd) and the entire Ugolo community in Okpe Kingdom over the unfortunate incidence.
“It is our prayer that the soul of the deceased will rest in peace, and that the injured will experience quick recovery.
“Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with the people of Ugolo in Okpe Kingdom over this tragedy.”