No fewer than seven persons, including a female police officer and ADC to the First Lady of a northern state (names withheld), were injured in the wee hours of Wednesday, when the popular Mekaval Hotel located in Effurun-Warri, Delta State collapsed.
It was gathered that the collapse hotel was similar to the collapse of the Synagogue of All Nation Church in Lagos, as the victims were mostly indigenes of neighboring state who besieged the city seeking salvation at the Christ Mercy Land Church, headed by Pastor Jeremiah Fufeyin, popularly called ‘Ijaw TB Joshua’ by followers.
Although the cause of the collapse was yet unknown at the time of this report Wednesday, the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, a lawyer and deacon, hinted of possible structural defect.
Otuaro, who raced to the scene of the incident at about 10:45am, immediately ordered the closure of the hotel buildings, as well as the standing two-storey main wing of the hotel, as a precautionary measure to avert further loss of lives.
He said, “The state government has ordered that the hotel be closed immediately to avert further loss of lives. We are going to send engineers straight away.
“It is very possible that there have been some structural defect ab initio during construction works because that place seems to be a waterlogged area and maybe the proper engineering works were not done.”
Otuaro spoke with newsmen at the Divine Grace Clinic, where five of the victims, including a pair of brothers and three females were being treated, decried the incident and described it as devastating.
He laments the devastation and trauma suffered by some of the lodgers at the hotel, including a lady from Bayelsa simply identified as Evangelist Florence, who spent over seven hours under rubles of the collapsed hotel.
While stressing that it wasn’t time for bulk-passing, the Deputy Governor assured that competent engineers were on their way to the site to assess the immediate and remote causes of the building collapse.
He commended public-spirited individuals and organizations like the Red Cross which promptly responded to distress call and assured that the state government would pick up the medical bills of the victims some of whom were being treated at the nearby Divine Grace Clinic.
Otuaro, who also visited five of the victims, thanked God for their safe evacuation from the scene and assured them of the support of the state government.
He advised inhabitants of buildings close to the scene to evacuate them pending examination by professional to ascertain the state of the structures.
Nevertheless, The Nation independent check revealed that the victims of Wednesday disaster were mainly religious pilgrim from outside the state, who were in Effurun for a church programme organized by Pastor Fufeyin
The ADC to the northern state First Lady, who was simply identified as Adeza, told Otuaro that she hit the city from Abuja on Tuesday afternoon in search of solution to some family problem.
The lady, who hails from Agbede, Edo state said, “I am a Muslim, but I came here to see the man of God. Only recently I lost my elder brother who was in the Army and so many things had been happening in my family. So I came here for prayers.”
The lady, who occupied Room 206 before the unfortunate incident, said at the time of her rescue she was still hearing voices from under the rubles from the collapsed hotel building, hinting that more people could still be trapped underground.
Her view with contrary to those expressed that by the hotel management that the seven recorded lodgers had all been rescued alive at about 11am on Wednesday.
Speaking in the same vein, another victim, who simply identified herself as Evangelist Florence, told our reporter that she came from Yenagoa, Bayelsa state for the church’s programme.
“Immediately I got into town I went to the mountain for prayers. It was after the prayer that I came to Mekaval.
“As I was sleeping, at about 2am I heard a sound creaking sound and everything came down, I tried to unlock my door but I couldn’t; it seemed like the door was locked outside. I was under the ground till about 7am when I was rescue,” she added.