13 People Killed, 16 Others Injured After Wall Collapses at South African Church During Good Friday Services

A church building in eastern South Africa partially collapsed at the start of the Easter weekend, killing at least 13 people and injuring 16, during heavy rainfall that caused flooding, power outages and structural damage.

A wall caved in at the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Dlangubo, a small village in KwaZulu-Natal province, shortly after 10 p.m. on Thursday, according to Robert McKenzie, a spokesman for the province’s emergency medical services department.

“There was an electrical storm in the area and it might have contributed,” Mr. McKenzie said of the disaster, which took place three days after a devastating fire ripped through the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris and caused extensive damage to one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Twelve of those killed in South Africa were women and the thirteenth was a boy, according to Siphamandla Goge, a reporter with ENCA television who was in the village on Friday.

Some of the victims had traveled 60 miles to attend services at the church and were staying overnight, said Thembeka Mbele, a police spokeswoman.

Mildred Oliphant, South Africa’s labor minister, is a senior member of the church and had planned to attend the Good Friday service there. She called the accident a “devastating tragedy.”

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Kimon de Greef