Update (from Reuters):http://www.reuters.com/locales/newsArticle.jsp?type=worldNews&locale=en_IN&storyID=4069420
Toll from Ethiopian church collapse reaches 17
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Rescuers recovered two more bodies from the rubble of a 13th-century Ethiopian church, bringing to 17 the number of people killed when the cave-like structure collapsed, officials said on Sunday.
Most of the dead were priests and deacons crushed when the Mewa Tsadkan Gabriel church caved in during a mass packed with worshippers celebrating the Orthodox Christian festival of Saint Gabriel last week.
Tens of thousands of people from across northern Ethiopia flock to the church during the festival to pray and give alms.
"Witnesses said there were lots of people singing and dancing around the church, which may have caused it to collapse," Tarekenge Emajnue, information officer for the Gonder region, told Reuters by telephone.
Tarekenge said efforts to retrieve more victims had been called off after the last two bodies were discovered in the church, one of many such sites carved out of bare rock in Ethiopia hundreds of years ago and still in use today.
On Saturday, police put the death toll at 15. The collapse happened on December 29, but news has been slow to trickle out of the area, some 300 km north of the capital Addis Ababa.
It was unclear how many people were inside when the church's ceiling fell, but such churches can often accommodate scores of worshippers.
The site was among the first rock-hewn churches built by the 13th-century Ethiopian King Lalibella, a ruler famed for his piety.
The churches are an important tourist attraction for the country of 67 million, drawing visitors from around the world lured by the cultural artefacts of a Christian civilisation dating back to the fourth century.