Black Thursday: 32 burnt to death, 18 crushed in multiple accidents

BY VINCENT UJUMADU & ENYIM ENYIM and Adekunle Aliyu with Agency Report

Bauchi – An automobile accident on Azare- Potiskum road in Bauchi and Yobe states on Thursday claimed 32 lives, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) said. Also 18 people were crushed in a multiple accidents at the foot of the Niger Bridge in Anambra State.

The Spokesperson for FRSC in Bauchi, Malam Ibrahim Geidam, made the confirmation in Bauchi, saying the accident, involved two Yobe Line buses about 11.45 a.m.

He said that all occupants, including the two drivers, died when the buses coming from opposite directions collided and caught fire.

Geidam said one of the buses was coming from Kano and heading to Potiskum while the other was coming from Damaturu and heading to Kaduna.

“The accident occurred about 10km away from Azare town, near a village, called Kuskure, and it involved two commercial buses owned by Yobe Line Transport Company.

“We learnt that one of the buses was travelling to Potiskum from Azare while the other one was heading for Kaduna from Damaturu in Yobe State,” he said.

He said that from all indications, the vehicles were over-speeding and trying to change their lanes. .

He stated that the 32 bodies had been deposited at a mortuary in a hospital in Azare town. (NAN)

While in ONITSHA it was a black Thursday for residents of Onitsha, the commercial nerve-centre of Anambra State, as a truck loaded with two 20ft containers yesterday lost control and crushed 18 people in a multiple accidents at the foot of the Niger Bridge.

The accidents, Vanguard learnt, occurred when some urchins allegedly collecting emblem fees for Anambra State government forced the driver of the lorry with registration number XM 858 MUS to stop. The driver lost control in the process and rammed into other vehicles.

According to an eye witness who spoke to Vanguard, the lorry was entering Onitsha from Asaba when the emblems officials attempted to use wood with nails to deflate the tyres, causing the driver to lose control as he tried to dodge the dangerous weapons.

Of the seven vehicles involved in the accidents, four were commercial buses while three were private vehicles heading from Onitsha to Asaba.

The four commercial buses with registration numbers XA 556 BUR, XD 566 ABN, XA 893 ACA and AWK 526 XA were crushed, while so many of their occupants died on the spot.

Vanguard gathered that the 40 ft container fell off from the truck when the driver lost control of the vehicle and skidded off the road.

The vehicle was said to have rammed into one of the heavy pillars on the bridgehead and somersaulted, causing the containers to fall on some other vehicles.

An eyewitness, Mrs. Rose Iwuno, a survivors in one of the mangled buses, said the accident was avoidable, adding that if the urchins had not accosted the truck driver, the accident would not have happened.

She said:   “We were going to Asaba through the other lane but suddenly, our driver noticed that the driver of the truck with two containers, which was coming into Onitsha, was trying to control his truck. Our driver tried to escape it but it was already very late, other vehicles were at both sides and even at the back.

“Then, most of us passed out but what I could remembers was a heavy sound, that was when one of the containers from the truck fell off and crushed a bus in front of us before rolling down towards our own bus.

“The number of casualties as it stands now, I cannot count but all I can tell you is that you see that bus that was smashed, I don’t think that anybody will come out of it alive because the containers were very heavy and there was no road safety people to help, so the casualties definitely will be up to 20.”

She said some of the victims were dismembered when the container fell on them, while others fell into the ditch as one of the victims who was still trapped under the container gasping for breathe but could not be helped.

At the time of the accident, no Federal Road Safety Corps official was on ground to assist the victims to nearby hospitals or mortuary, despite the fact that the accidents occurred right in front of the Onitsha unit of the FRSC.

The incident took another dimension when angry mob went on rampage and set the make-shift office of the Emblem collectors ablaze, while the urchins took to their heels.

It took the intervention of  sympathizers and workers of the Consolidated Construction Company, CCC, who brought their heavy equipment, to lift the container and evacuate the dismembered bodies of the victims to an undisclosed mortuary, while the injured were rushed to hospitals.

The new Unit Commander of FRSC, Onitsha, Mr. Fredrick Oko, confirmed the multiple accidents and said he was still collating the number of casualties only to come up later to say only two people were killed in the accidents.
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