By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja and Ogochukwu Anioke, Abakaliki
Thirteen bodies have been recovered from the Akaeze-Ukwu River in Ebonyi state, site of the deadly motor accident which occurred Friday night.
This followed the location and recovery of the bus by divers brought into the state from neighbouring states to aid in the search and rescue of the victims. The Nation had reported how a bus carrying over 30 passengers plunged into the River along the Akaeze-Ishiagu expressway, Ivo local government area of the state.
Five of the passengers, who were returning from a burial, were rescued and taken to hospital on Friday. However, one of them died at the hospital while the others are said to still be unconscious.
Chairman of the local government, Onyebuchi Ogbadu confirmed the recovery of the extra thirteen dead bodies on Saturday. According to him, the State government had to bring in divers from Rivers and Cross River states to help in the search of the bus.
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“The divers were able to locate the bus and pushed it up to enable the crane to pull it out”, he said.
The Chairman said they are still searching for the remaining passengers aboard the bus. “The driver said he was carrying 32 persons in the bus so we are still looking for about 13 or more persons.”
Ogbadu said the driver was able to dive out of the bus as it was plunging into the river and was one of those rescued on Friday.
Meanwhile, President Muhmmadu Buhari has sent condolences to the people and government of Ebonyi State over the accident. In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari described the incident as a colossal loss of human lives. “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. 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.
In a related development, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, on Saturday, visited the scene of the tragic accident and ordered a full investigation, warning drivers to always exercise caution while plying routes. “I am saddened over this ugly incident. It is indeed devastating but we cannot question God. I sympathise with the families of those that are involved in this ugly incident and urge them to look unto God in this trying time as only Him can close the vacuum,” he said.