KATHMANDU, Sept 30, 2009 (AFP) - A church building has collapsed in eastern Nepal, killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more, police said Wednesday.
Around 1,500 Christians had gathered in the makeshift three-storey building for a two-day convention when it collapsed, they said.
"The participants were preparing to sleep when the wall collapsed. Most of the victims were on the ground floor of the building," police inspector Mohan Bikram Dahal told AFP.
"The wall was made of bamboo and it could not withstand the weight of the people in the church."
The temporary structure was built next to a concrete church.
Police said rescue teams were at the scene and the injured had been taken to hospitals in the town of Dharan, around 200 miles (322 miles) east of Kathmandu.
The army has been drafted in to assist with the rescue effort, they added.
Many of those attending the annual convention of the El-Shaddai Church, an international Christian organisation, were from neighbouring India, and police said at least one of the dead was an Indian national.
The incident happened as majority-Hindu Nepal celebrates its biggest annual festival, Dashain, and came months after a bomb blast in a church in Kathmandu killed two people and injured 14 others.
Accidents are common in poverty-stricken Nepal, where safety standards are lax and frequently ignored.