A 58-year-old woman who survived the Akyem Batabi church collapse in the Asene Manso Akroso District of the Eastern Region has recounted how she managed to escape what she described as a near-death-experience.
Narrating the events that led to the collapse of the building to Kenneth Oduro of Akyemmansa FM on Thursday, 22 October 2020, the woman said they were asked to sleep at the church premises while they embarked on a fast to enable them to see visions in their dreams before the building caved in.
“They asked everyone to come and sleep so that we’ll get a vision, so, I was going to take my dress, which I was drying outside. While I was going for it, I realised someone had taken it. So, I was even getting angry. When we were coming back, someone told me that they lost their dress and that a certain woman had taken it.
“So, another man told me to forget about it and go to bed. I resolved to throw the dress away if I saw it again. If I had gone, I would not have been inside when the building collapsed.
“All I heard was the top caved in and the other side also caved in.
“We were rescued at 2 [O’clock]. I couldn’t see anything, the world looked dark, the place was dark. The steps had covered me, every place was blocked; there was no way we could have come out, it’s by God’s grace that we survived,” the woman said.
Asked why she attended the church on that fateful day, she said: “You know in life, there are lots of enemies, so, when you find a man of God, you have to surrender and be submissive to the church. The church is good. I would be telling lies if I denied that fact. I’ve been fellowshipping with him for 33 years.”
A total of 16 people have, so far, been confirmed dead from the disaster.
Rescue efforts are still continuing with the help of excavators and sniffer dogs.
Meanwhile, the District Chief Executive of Asene Manso Akroso, Mr Alex Inkoom, has said his District Engineer revealed to him only on Tuesday, 20 October 2020, just hours after the collapse of the three-storey church that he (the Engineer) had warned the congregants of the looming danger two weeks earlier after passing through the area.
According to the DCE, the District Engineer told him that he warned the church members and leaders during that visit that the structural integrity and engineering of the building, which has intermittently been under construction since 1994, was dangerous.
The church members, according to the DCE, retorted that they believed in God to protect them and also expressed faith that so far as they had Prophet Akoa Isaac as their spiritual leader, they were more than safe.
Mr Inkoom spoke to AccraFM’s Kwabena Prah Jr on the station’s morning show Ghana Yensom on Wednesday, 21 October 2020.
The congregants of the Church of Prosperity, numbering more than 60, had converged on the church premises to pray and fast for their founder, who had taken ill, when the incident happened.
More than 30 of the congregants survived and were rescued from the rubble but some 20 others were feared trapped under the debris.
First responders, including personnel from the Akim Oda Divisional Police Command, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Ambulance Service, and National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) have been racing against time to rescue those trapped under the rubble.