Seventy bodies have been pulled from the rubble of a hostel in Lagos owned by charismatic Nigerian preacher TB Joshua that collapsed on Friday.
At least 67 of those killed were South Africans believed to be attending a healing gathering. A group of about 300 people are said to have travelled to Nigeria for the gathering from South Africa, although not all in the group were South Africans.
President Jacob Zuma said the incident is the deadliest involving South Africans abroad “in our recent history”.
The multi-storey building served as a guesthouse on the campus of the TV evangelist’s Synagogue, Church of All Nations, and was housing visitors from Nigeria and other countries.
Mr Joshua says the collapse was caused by a small plane that had been circling over the building and suggested it was an attempt on his life.
Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Mr Ibrahim Abdulsalam said TB Joshua’s claim is being investigated.
On Tuesday, however, a rescue official said the likeliest cause of the building’s collapse was the construction of additional storeys without reinforcing the foundations.
At least 130 people, including many foreigners, were pulled out of the rubble. The rescue operation was initially hampered after rescue workers were barred from entering the site by TB Joshua’s followers.