A 47-year old South African who survived the collapse of a section of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) who later joined in the rescue efforts has opened up on the events that transpired in the aftermath of the collapse.
Jonty Cloete, who stated that he was a property consultant with considerable paramedic training from Mossel Bay in South Africa said he was in the church auditorium when the section of the building which serves as a guesthouse collapsed.
Speaking to South African Witness News, Cloete said: “We knew that there were many people in there, most of them South Africans, we were five groups there at the time, so there were over 350 people.”
Cloete said he feared the worst, seeing six stories on top of them and quickly offered to help in the rescue operation since he had a paramedic background.
He debunked claims that inefficiency on the part of SCOAN authorities hampered the rescue effort.
He said: “After that initial confusion and shock, I saw effectiveness; I saw people went in and quickly sorted themselves out. The first day we rescued 75 people.
“The discipline and organizational capacity of the church and its followers were phenomenal. Immediately the churches own 11 ambulances were used to take survivors to the 10 hospitals in the area to be treated,” Cloete added, stating that the ambulance had just been purchased by the church a few months earlier. He said although the death toll was high, it could have been even worse “if not for God”
“Every day, wonderful stories of rescue and survival from the rubble emerged. The story of the woman who came out after five days was probably the most gripping. Miracles from God were really happening, it was disaster management at its best. I would like to believe that people did what they could and it was all in God’s hands,” he said in conclusion.