TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi expressed deep sorrow for the deaths of at least 160 people after a crowded church collapsed onto worshippers in southern Nigeria.

In a statement on Monday, Qassemi expressed deep grief over the deaths of the Nigerian worshippers and said the occurrence of this tragic incident just before the Christian New Year has heightened pain and suffering of the families of the victims.

He further wished patience and calm for the bereaved families of the victims.

On Saturday, Metal girders and the roof of a crowded church collapsed onto worshippers in southern Nigeria, killing at least 160 people with the toll likely to rise, a hospital director said.

The Reigners Bible Church International was still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for Saturday's ceremony to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop.

Hundreds of people, including Akwa Ibom state Governor Udom Emmanuel, were inside when metal girders crashed onto worshippers and the corrugated iron roof caved in.