Buhari

By Kazeem Ugbodaga with Agency Report

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his condolences to the government and people of Ebonyi State over the motor accident on Akaeze-Ukwu River Friday night, in which 14 people died.

Rescuers are still searching for more bodies.

Thirty-eight passengers were said to be on the ill-fated bus conveying church members who attended their pastor’s burial and were returning to Enugu when the incident occurred.

Five have been rescued and 14 dead, while the rest are still missing.

“We are saddened and aggrieved at this colossal loss of human lives,” said the President, adding that the thoughts and prayers of the government and people of Nigeria are with the families of the victims of this accident,” Buhari said.

He commended the Ebonyi state government in spearheading the rescue and recovery efforts as well as the support it has received from the neighbouring state governments in that regard.

On Saturday, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ebonyi confirmed the retrieval of 14 corpses from the Akeze-Ukwu river after a Mercedes Benz 608 model bus plunged into it on Friday evening.

The bus driver was said to have lost control of the vehicle while trying to overtake an articulated vehicle on the bridge but five victims were rescued unconscious on Friday.

Mrs Stella Uchegbu, FRSC Sector Commander in Ebonyi, told NAN on Saturday that the bus had been retrieved with 14 persons aboard.

“Seven males and seven females, all adults were inside the vehicle all and they were all dead.

“Their corpses have been deposited at the Mater Misericordae Hospital, Afikpo, but both professional divers from Port Harcourt and the local ones are still searching for more victims,” she said.

Uchegbu said that with five persons rescued on Friday and 14 corpses retrieved on Saturday, it was clear that there more victims were still missing.

“This sums to 19 recovered persons as against the expected 32 passengers on board the bus.

“The FRSC personnel are still on ground, maintaining free flow of traffic with the road cordoned to motorists since Friday,” she said.

Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, Chairman of Ivo Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, disclosed that the state government hired divers from Rivers and Cross River to assist in the rescue efforts.