A brick wall at a partly constructed church in Uganda’s capital collapsed onto the congregation Wednesday during an evening thunderstorm, killing at least 27 people and injuring dozens more, authorities said.
The Protestant evangelical church in a Kampala slum was under construction, and parishioners set up a wood-and-tin shack inside the unfinished structure so they could conduct services, regional police Commander Grace Puryagumanawe said.
“We’re going to investigate the poor building standards. We have already collected samples of the materials used,” he said.
Fire and rescue chief Joseph Mugisa said the wall collapsed during a thunderstorm with high winds and heavy rains, and 27 people were killed.
“It was completely chaotic. Everyone was trying to get out; people were yelling and shouting; people were trying to carry out the injured,” Mugisa said.
Kampala’s Mulago Hospital received 86 injured people, deputy director Isaac Exati said. The hospital trauma room has only 20 beds, and most of the wounded lay moaning on the floor, screaming for their families. Hundreds of relatives gathered outside the hospital waiting for word of the survivors’ conditions.
“We were in the church for the service, and it was raining very heavily,” said Nsubuga Hannington, who was in the hospital with a minor head injury. “All of a sudden, I heard a crash and the wall fell down.”
He said he was knocked unconscious and woke up under a pile of bricks.
The police and the fire and rescue service said they were almost certain that all the dead and injured were removed from the debris.
The slum has no electricity and witnesses who first came out of the neighborhood said rescuers had burned plastic chairs to provide light for those digging through the wreckage. They said that after the chairs had all been burned rescuers had to give up the search until dawn.