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Police chief, 59 others drown as bridge collapses

Posted by John Alechenu with agency report on 2005/08/08 | Views: 517 |

Police chief, 59 others drown as bridge collapses

They had gone to the Nukkai Bridge, Jalingo, Taraba State, to observe the river current and its impact on their environment.

They had gone to the Nukkai Bridge, Jalingo, Taraba State, to observe the river current and its impact on their environment.

As they stood in their hundreds on the bridge chattering away on Sunday, the bridge caved in and the current swept about 60 of them away.

Among those feared dead was an Assistant Commissioner of Police, who had gone to disperse the crowd from the bridge.

The policeman had hung on a railing of the bridge for over three hours, crying for help which did not come.

Some of the other victims were passengers who were being conveyed across the bridge.

Relations of the deceased and sympathisers were seen weeping at the scene as policemen and firefighters, assisted by local fishermen, searched for corpses.

While the State Police Command which confirmed the incident said nine bodies had been recovered, the Agence France Presse said 10.

Five persons were, however, lucky as they were rescued alive.

Spokesman of the Command, Mr. Saje Atagiri, told our correspondent via telephone that rescue efforts were still on and, as such, he could not say the exact number of people that died.

Atagiri said, “For now, we do not have an exact figure because there were houses on the river bank that were also washed away. We were able to rescue five people alive. As I am talking to you, we are still searching for one of our senior officers who also fell into the river when the bridge collapsed.”

Atagiri confirmed that the police officer (names withheld) was trying to stop people from getting onto the bridge after part of it gave way following a five-hour heavy downpour.

He added that the officer was on the verge of moving away from the bridge when the remaining part gave way and the heavy water current swept him away.

Atagiri also confirmed that the pick-up van conveying people across the bridge fell into the river when the bridge collapsed.

The AFP quoted a spokesman of the state government as saying that Governor Jolly Nyame had visited the scene.

“The damage to the bridge and buildings is very extensive," the spokesman, Mr. Matthew Eliud Jen, told the AFP by telephone from the scene.

He added, “The River Jalingo bridge collapsed when the river overflowed its banks as a result of several hours of downpour. The state governor, Jolly Nyame, is currently at the scene of the disaster to assess the damage.

“We are yet to ascertain the exact figure of casualties and those missing. But we have recovered at least 10 corpses so far.”

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Social Services, Alhaji Habu Sani, described the incident as “devastating, most unfortunate and unprecedented in the state.”

Sani said efforts were being made to immediately move some residents of the area to some primary schools.

He addedthat the amount of water in the river was too much for any successful rescue operation.

The state, according to him, will contact the Federal Government through the National Emergency Management Agency to come to the aid of the people.

A former Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly, Mr. Simon Shinpu, who resides near the river, called on the Federal Government to immediately come to the aid of the people.

No fewer than 30 houses were washed away at Water Board and Sabon Gari areas of Jalingo.

The PUNCH, Tuesday, August 09, 2005

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Comments (6)

Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...


Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding