Thirteen people have been confirmed dead and 16 others seriously injured after a church partially collapsed during a pre-Easter service in South Africa.
Worshippers had gathered at Pentecostal Holiness Church in eMpangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, for a service organized as a precursor to Easter Sunday, when the tragedy occurred.
The wall at the front of the Pentecostal Holiness Church collapsed at the start of what had been planned as a weekend-long service to commemorate the Christian festival of Easter.
Emergency services said that 29 people were rushed to hospital after the collapse in the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Local officials have blamed the tragedy on heavy rainfall in the area around eMpangeni on Thursday night.
Most of the victims were reportedly women sleeping in the church.
The Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi, the mayor of Zululand municipality, said the community was devastated and they would be praying for those affected by the tragedy.
“Christians [from] all denominations – we are here in solidarity. We are here to pray with the church, to pray with the families and to offer our support that God may really heal their wounds.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the church last year and some of the congregants reportedly asked for his support to build a new church.