Durban - The 13 congregants who were killed when a KwaZulu-Natal church collapsed had been asleep at the time of the incident, police revealed on Friday.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said an inquest docket had been opened, and confirmed 12 of the 13 people killed in the collapse were women, while the 13th was a boy.
"The congregants were sleeping in the building after the church service ended just after 10pm. There was heavy wind and rain and the walls collapsed. The 13 confirmed dead are 12 women and one boy. An inquest docket has been opened and police are still at the scene," she said.
The Police Search and Rescue unit was on the scene searching for survivors.
The church building collapse happened at the Pentecostal Church in Ndlangubo, near Richards Bay, on the KZN north coast.
Ten other congregants sustained minor injuries, while six were seriously injured in the tragedy.
KZN MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, was reportedly on her way to the church along with members of the provincial disaster management team.
The disaster management team will assess the situation in order to devise a plan to deal with the tragedy and pay their respects to the families of the victims.
#sapsKZN Members from Empangeni #SearchAndRescue Dive Unit and K9 S&R assisted in rescue of church goers at Pentecostal Church after a wall collapsed on members of the congregation. NP pic.twitter.com/JOJAEuz77K— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) April 19, 2019
In statements, the DA and the ANC in KZN said they were saddened by the deaths of the congregants.
Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, the ANC KZN spokesperson, said: “The African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal sends its deepest condolences to the relatives of the 13 people who sadly lost their lives when the side wall of the Pentecostal Church building collapsed following heavy rainfall in the Dlangubo area of Umhlathuze Local Municipality last night.