Damisi Ojo (Akure), David Adenuga (Bauchi) and Bassey Anthony (Uyo)
A pall of gloom hung over the nation on Thursday as no fewer than 50 persons died in various tragic circumstances across three states.
In Bauchi, 28 commuters were burnt to death in a crash on Bauchi-Ningi Highway.
Spokesman of the state Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Rilwan Suleiman confirmed the incident.
Suleiman told The Nation on the phone that the crash happened when two vehicles collided head-on, resulting in the death of the occupants.
He said, ”Yes it is true, an accident occurred but we are still trying to find out the relatives of the deceased. You know in accidents like this where people were disfigured, burnt beyond recognition, it is difficult to identify the victims; even the relatives won’t be able to easily identify their family members.”
In Ondo, 18 persons were reported dead in a ghastly crash along Benin-Ore Expressway in Ore, headquarters of Odigbo Local Government Area of the state.
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The accident, according to sources, involved two vehicles.
It was learnt that many passengers were injured in the crash and were rushed to hospital.
The state Sector Commander of the FRSC, Rotimi Adeleye who confirmed the crash, however, said four persons died.
Residents of the area and other road users insisted, though, that 18 persons died in the crash, while others in the two vehicles sustained serious injuries.
The two ill-fated vehicles were said to be coming from the Southeast and heading Lagos before the crash.
Eyewitnesses linked the carnage to wrong overtaking by one of the drivers of the vehicles on the bridge after Warri Park in Ore.
The two damaged vehicles were taken to the FRSC office in Ore.
Adeleye said the crash was caused by-speeding and wrong overtaking by the driver.
Yesterday, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel visited survivors of the autocrash which claimed four staff of the state-owned Pioneer newspaper.
The governor was out of the state when the incident occurred but upon his return he went to the Ibom Specialist Hospital where the survivors are being treated.
The deputy governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, the Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong and other top government officials also visited the victims.
Emmanuel commiserated with families of the deceased, the state newspaper corporation and survivors, promising to do everything possible to help them in their recovery.
While four staff of the state newspaper corporation were confirmed dead, others, our correspondent gathered, sustained serious injuries, a good number in a coma.
The injured and those in coma are receiving treatment at the Ibom Specialist Hospital and the General Hospital, Ituk Mbang in Uruan Local Government Area of the state.
They were said to be returning from a traditional marriage of their colleague when the tragic incident occurred.
The accident involving an 18-seater bus of the Pioneer Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa State Chapter lost control Wednesday night while trying to negotiate a U-turn close to the Victor Attah International Airport.
Our correspondent confirmed last night that no journalist died in the incident. However, a senior reporter with the Pioneer newspaper, Mrs. Bassey Mkponam sustained serious injuries but is receiving treatment.
The state commissioner for information, Charles Udom told The Nation last night that the accident happened just as the Governor’s convoy was returning to Uyo after dropping the governor at the airport.
Udoh said, “The casualty figure would have been much higher if not for God.”