The Lagos State Chief Forensic Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, has said that his team would conclude the DNA analysis of the 116 persons that died in the September 12 Synagogue building collapse in “two weeks time.”
Obafunwa stated this on Tuesday whilepresenting his team’s preliminary report to the coroner probing the cause of the collapse of a guest house within the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in the Ikotun-Egbe area of Lagos.
The pathologist, who put the mortality figure at 116, said his team was still awaiting the fingerprint reports and lodgers’ list to conclude their job.
He reported that the autopsy, conducted by a team of pathologists and dental surgeons, revealed that the victims died of crush injuries called “traumatic rhabdomyolysis”.
Obafunwa said, “The bodies were not charred but were compromised by heat. In the case of a building collapse, the temperature would naturally rise, thereby causing decomposition to set in.
“Most of the 116 bodies that were received by our team of pathologists were already decomposing, considering the amount of time spent in confinement, due to the heat and tropical nature of the environment.
“The bodies had to be embalmed immediately to arrest any further decomposition. The bodies were mutilated, some had head injuries, fractured bones and ribs and some even had dangling limbs that were attached to the body by thin strips of skin.”
Meanwhile, a South African citizen and a member of the SCOAN, Mr. Anthony Vanderbyl, who lost his wife to the Synagogue building collapse, has pleaded for the timely release of the body.
Vanderbyl told the coroner on Tuesday that his entire family had been further anguished due to the delay in the release of the corpse. He therefore asked for the specific date when the corpse would be released.
He said, “My entire family is in anguish because the body of my wife, the mother of my children, lies in the mortuary. We need to see her, to feel a certain amount of closure.
“We are asking for a specific day when her body can be released to us, so that we can take her back to South Africa. Please remove whatever obstacles preventing us, we can’t take it anymore.”
In response, the Coroner, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, assured Vanderbyl that the body would be released but that there was “need to follow the international standard best practices in the collection and analysis of DNA samples in order not to be misinformed.”
Obafunwa also told the coroner that his team was close to the end of their work.
“We are working closely with the South African Department of Health. They are assisting us with reference samples and I know that we are moving closer to the end of the process,” he said.
The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Louis Mnguni, said samples were still being analysed at the laboratory in Cape Town, South Africa.
The matter has been adjourned till Wednesday (today).