“Very difficult to bear”: Archbishop in Cameroon on Dozens Killed in Collapsed Building

Rescuers dig through rubble of the collapsed building in the Ndogbong neighborhood in Douala. Credit: ACI Africa

The loss of dozens of people as a result of the collapse of the four-storey building in Douala is a tragedy that is “very difficult to bear” Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala Archdiocese in Cameroon has said.

On July 23, the building situated at the Ndogbong neighborhood in Douala collapsed onto another one-storey residential apartment building killing at least 33 people and leaving 21 others injured, BBC News reported.

Speaking to journalists Tuesday, July 25 after visiting the scene of the incident, Archbishop Kleda expressed his spiritual closeness with the victims and their respective families.

“What happened is a tragedy. Seeing entire families perish overnight is very difficult to bear,” the Cameroonian Catholic Archbishop said.

Credit: ACI Africa


He added, “It was important for me as the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Douala to visit the scene of this incident and pray with all those who are affected.”

“I prayed for the victims and extended my solidarity to their families for God to give them the necessary comfort to overcome this shock,” the Archbishop of Douala further said, and continued, “In such situations it is very difficult to address those affected but the only thing we could do is pray with them and ask them to put their trust in God.”

“I also visited and prayed with those in the hospital for God to grant them healing,” the 64-year-old Cameroonian Archbishop said.

On July 24, Cameroon’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development visited the scene of the incident and extended government's condolences to the families of the 33 people who lost their lives.

Celestine Ketcha Courtes at the scene of the incident. Credit: CRTV

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“I am very sorry that we lost people due to non-observation of building documents and non-respect of urbanization. For this, I am here to extend the condolences of the government and tell the grieving families and populations that we are together,” Celestine Ketcha Courtes said.

The Cameroonian government official called for an immediate investigation to ascertain the cause of the tragedy and instructed local authorities to ensure that everybody constructing acquires a building permit, and respects the town planning standards.

Credit: ACI Africa

In his July 25 address to journalists, Archbishop Kleda said that plans to organize a Holy Mass in honor of the victims of the collapsed building was underway. 

“We plan to organize a Eucharistic Celebration in future to pray for the victims and their families. We will communicate on that at the appropriate time,” he said.


Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.