Posted by From Madu Onuorah (Abuja), Abiodun Fanoro, Odita Sunday, Alex Olise, Uche Nwankwo and Emmanuel Balogun on
TEARS flowed freely yesterday at the Maryland section of the Anthony-Ojota area of Lagos State, as at least 30 people were feared dead in a multiple road crash.
TEARS flowed freely yesterday at the Maryland section of the Anthony-Ojota area of Lagos State, as at least 30 people were feared dead in a multiple road crash. They were all burnt to death. Most of the survivors were badly burnt and were rushed to the Ikeja General Hospital.
Touched by the enormity of the carnage, Vice President Atiku Abubakar has ordered the police to investigate the crash.
It all started at about 10.30 a.m. and by 1.30 p.m., the area had been cleared of its human and vehicular wreckage. But the loss was heavy. The accident involved five vehicles.
Witnesses' account said that a mini-bus with registration number AA 565 WSM caught fire at the Maryland subway. To avoid colliding with it, an on-coming bus popularly called molue, tried to climb the median. In the process, the molue was hit from the rear by a J 5 bus with registration number XA 817 WSN. Both caught fire immediately.
In the pandemonium, another vehicle, a civilian bus, hit the J 5 and immediately caught fire.
In the melee, a speeding oil tanker completed the spree when it rammed into the Civilian bus, which caught fire.
Speaking with newsmen, the Operations Commander of Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA), Mr. Babatunde Edu, put the death figure at 18. But the men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and witnesses said that at least 60 people were burnt.
Three people were said to have died in the mini-bus, over 15 in the J 5 and an unspecified number in both the over-loaded civilian and the 911 buses.
Edu said that the survivors, most of whom suffered various degrees of burns, were taken to the Ikeja General Hospital for medication. Almost all of them were on danger list.
Edu confirmed that the J 5 bus carried cans of petrol.
The civilian and 911 buses were on intra-city transportation while the J 5 was Kwara State-bound. The destination of the mini-bus could not be ascertained. Expectedly, the accident caused a heavy traffic-jam on both sides of the Ojota - Anthony Village end of the Ikorodu Road.
The Ikeja by-pass of the Maryland subway was also not spared of the traffic-jam.
LASTMA officers, with security and safety officials around Ikeja, evacuated the dead and the injured to the hospital.
A top LASTMA official lamented what he called the inefficient response of fire fighters, saying if they had responded promptly and effectively, more lives would have been saved. "We got bad response from men of the fire service. When we got the accident call, we put emergency calls to all the fire stations around. But the response we got was bad. They complained that they had no water. If the response from them had been efficient, I believe, more lives could have been saved."
Fielding questions from newsmen, Mr. Jack-Vincent Moghan of the FRSC, blamed the accident on drivers' recklessness and failure to comply with basic safety rules.
Moghan also blamed the accident on old and rickety buses plying Lagos roads. He advised the state government to ban the operation of molue on Lagos roads.
He also blamed passengers for drivers' recklessness because they often challenged FRSC men who tried to enforce safety rules.
Fifteen of the victims in very critical condition were admitted at the Accident Ward of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital at Ikeja.
The Lagos State Deputy police spokesman, Mr. Ademola Adebayo, said: "Reports show that about 60 persons were feared dead although it has not been fully confirmed until we get the report from the state's traffic division".
He added: "It was really a ghastly accident. The accident almost caused chaos around the area that was why we drafted our mobile police force there to keep the peace".
Over 200 mobile policemen from Mopol 22 in Oduduwa, Ikeja, Lagos, were drafted to the scene to maintain peace and avoid hoodlums taking advantage of the incident to loot.
When The Guardian visited the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, the public and press officer, Mr. Michael Ometu, said: "Only 15 victims of the accident who are in terrible condition are receiving treatment in our emergency room".
Nine are females while six were males. By last night, three of them had been moved to the Agege General Hospital due to space constraints.
Co-ordinator of Emergency Services at Lagos General Hospital, Mr. Ahmed Sanni, refused to allow journalists in because of what he called "shock which the victims were experiencing."
Vice President Atiku yesterday directed the new Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, to immediately investigate the cause of the accident.
The report, the Vice President said, is necessary in order for the government to take further action on curtailing of incessant carnage on Nigeria's roads.
He also expressed condolences with the government and people of Lagos State, including the victims.
According to a statement from his office: "The Vice President was informed of the accident by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Prince Olusola Akanmode while he was on his way to Yola for the Sallah holiday." He expressed "shock and sadness over the continued loss of lives on Nigerian roads."
He added: "I have noted with sadness the increasing rate of accidents on our roads in which a lot of people have lost their lives in recent times. "I recall that two luxurious buses collided in Oyo State recently in which a number of people died. It is sad that we have to contend with this type of ghastly incident again."
He prayed God to "give the Lagos State government and the families of the victims the fortitude to bear the loss that has just befallen them and the nation".
Vice President called on Nigerians to drive more carefully and obey all safety signs on the roads to prevent more of such experiences.`
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