The death toll from the Nigerian church collapse has now climbed to 115 people, with 84 of them South Africans, a South African minister said Monday, citing sources in Lagos.
"We understand from our assessment team that the total number of people who have perished is now 115, but those are not all South Africans. South Africans (are) about 84 that have died," Jeff Radebe, the minister in charge of Pretoria's response to the disaster, told reporters.
Speaking after around two dozen injured survivors were repatriated home, Radebe revised the numbers of injured that arrived to 25 because one had chosen to return to the church which crumbled in Lagos on September 12.
The plan was to bring back all the 26, but "there were only 25 who actually boarded the aircraft because one returned to the synagogue yesterday," said Radebe.
The 26 survived after being trapped under rubble when a guesthouse attached to the church run by a prominent Nigerian preacher TB Joshua collapsed more than a week ago.
A 19-member medical team including specialised doctors, nurses and medical military paramedics took care of the injured on board a military C-130 aircraft.
"It's the biggest evacuation effort by the (South African) Air Force since the dawn of democracy," two decades ago, said Radebe.
Two orphaned toddlers - that lost their parents in the tragedy - were among the survivors that returned on Monday.