School bus tragedy: Tears, anguish as death toll hits 5

 •Ajimobi orders immediate purchase of equipment for treatment
Death toll in Wednesday’s school bus fire tragedy in which 15 pupils of Divine Wisdom Group of Schools, Amosu area, Ibadan were burnt while being conveyed to school, has increased to five. Thirteen out of the 21 pupils of the school located in the Lagelu Local Government Area of the state were rushed to the emergency unit of the University College Hospital (UCH) after they were trapped and got burnt in the Ford school bus, which caught fire while conveying them to school.

 After the fire was put off, the bus was taken to the Alabebe Division of the Nigeria Police Force. While some of the pupils aged between five and 11 were rushed to different private hospitals around Iyana-Church area, 13 others were rushed to the UCH due to the severity of the burns and were placed on oxygen. Eight of the pupils suffered shock as a result of the incident.

 As at 10.45a.m when Daily Sun visited the emergency unit of the UCH yesterday, five of the kids had been confirmed dead by the hospital management, though unofficial report said about six kids had passed away. The Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Mr. Femi Bobade told Daily Sun that five out of the 13 pupils rushed to the hospital had died in the early hours of yesterday, others, he added, were still being monitored by doctors.

 Among the dead kids, according to Daily Sun investigation, were six-year-old Musa Abdulrasak, a primary four pupil and Racheal Oyerinde, a primary five pupil. By 12.00 noon, two other victims of the fire incident were rushed into the emergency unit of the hospital from the private hospital where they were formerly being treated. A family source said they had to be rushed to the UCH after the hospital’s management confirmed to the parents that they could no longer cope with the health situations of the kids.

 The two kids were Fela and Dorcas Oyerinde, whose sister, Rachael, was among the five confirmed dead so far.
 Speaking with Daily Sun, the father of the kids, Mr. Oyelade Oyerinde, said all his three children attending the school were involved in the fire incident, adding that one of them, Rachael, died in the early hours of yesterday.

 According to him, he was in his office in Lagos when he received an emergency call that his children were among those involved in the fire disaster. Oyerinde, who wept profusely said: “I had to rush down to Ibadan. Rachael is dead now, Fela and Dorcas were rushed in from the private hospital where they were formerly being treated because I don’t want to gamble with their health. We were not seeing any improvement in the former hospital.”

 Mr. Yakubu Abdulrasak was another parent who had three children at the Divine Wisdom Group of Schools. He also confirmed that his son, Musa, died in the early hours of yesterday, while Monsurat (12), the oldest of the children, was still struggling for survival at the emergency ward. He added that Latifat (9), the third child, escaped from the fire through the window of the bus, adding that she was okay. His wife, Bashirat, slumped but was revived after it was confirmed that her son had passed on.

 Mr. Bayo Fafure, an Okada rider, who participated in the rescue operation told Daily Sun how he burst into tears when a pupil he carried on his motorcycle, whose skin was badly burnt, asked if he would ever be okay. After I dropped him at the emergency unit, I told him, you will be okay but he replied, ‘Uncle will I be okay, I can’t be fine.’ ” Another parent, Mr. Oyeleke Oluseye, who was on a sympathy visit with other parents explained how his children escaped the unfortunate incident by the whiskers. He said: “I was at the bus-stop, which is just few metres away from the scene of the fire, when we got information that the bus had caught fire. We were even complaining that the bus was late. I know that the children that were involved, God’s hand is on them.”

 Meanwhile, the state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, yesterday, ordered the immediate procurement of all the equipment needed by the UCH to treat the burnt school children. The governor, according to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Festus Adedayo was at the hospital to assess the condition of the children. He also ordered the immediate release of N6 million for the purchase of the equipment.

 He also ordered that the supplier of the equipment should be escorted to and from Lagos by security operatives attached to his office to hasten the arrival of the equipment. Ajimobi had earlier been told by the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee of the hospital, Dr. Biodun Otegbayo, that some of the children were in critical condition and needed urgent medical attention, adding, however, that the hospital did not have the equipment.
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