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Onitsha Tanker Tragedy: Atiku Expresses Shock, Sympathises With Victims

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar Yesterday In Abuja Expressed “Deep Shock And Sadness’’ At The Petrol Tanker Tragedy At Upper Iweka, Onitsha, Anambra.

Ahamefule Chime, Onitsha

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar yesterday in Abuja expressed “deep shock and sadness’’ at the petrol tanker tragedy at Upper Iweka, Onitsha, Anambra. This is contained in a statement signed by Paul Ibe, Deputy Head of Atiku’s Media Team. A fuel-laden tanker on Sunday rammed into a building at the busy Upper Iweka roundabout, killing scores of people and burning 15 vehicles. Atiku prayed for the repose of the souls of the deceased and solicited God’s protection for Nigerians nationwide.

“May God accept the souls of the departed into blissful eternity and grant the relatives and families of the deceased bearable fortitude to accept the loss. “I commiserate with the government and good people of Anambra, in whose abode this huge loss had taken place,’’ the statement quotes Atiku as saying. Atiku advised motorists and road safety agencies to embark on sensitisation programmes on safe and considerate driving. He also implored Nigerians to unite in moments of tragedy, to demonstrate their national resilience to overcome tough times. The statement also called for more government investment in health and safety emergency measures to check carnage or reduce casualty figures.

It is indeed a trying moment for newspaper distributors and vendors in Onitsha as the group lost three of its colleagues in the Sunday tanker fire out-break which claimed the lives of about 120 people. Contrary to conflicting reports on the number of causalities in the road accident, this reporter gathered that about 120 victims must have been involved in the accident and subsequently deposited at various hospital mortuaries in Onitsha and Delta State. An eye witness who was present at the scene of the incident said that 56 corpses were deposited at Onitsha General Hospital, while 76 bodies were also deposited at the nearby Toronto Hospital which is just about three poles from the scene.

The source also confirmed that she saw another ambulance conveying an undisclosed number of corpses to Asaba, Delta State as nearby mortuaries in Onitsha had no space for dead bodies. Regrettably, Onitsha sales agent of “The Union Newspaper”, Mr. Samuel Egbutulu, (Uncle Joe) lost one of his vendors who used to own a newspaper stand at Asaba Park, scene of the incident. He gave the name of the victim simply as Clement popularly known as “local man”.

Mr. Egbutulu, one of the major newspaper agents at the popular Old Market Road told this reporter that on the fateful Sunday morning that the late Clement had arrived his office at Old Market Road where he (Mr. Egbutulu) gave him some newspapers to sell at his stand at Upper-Iweka only to receive a message that he had been involved in the accident. Two other vendors known as Ifeoma and Ifeanyi were also said to have lost their lives in the deadly inferno, including, “free traders” and passersby and those waiting to board buses to their various destinations in Asaba. The cause of the accident is yet unknown.

But an unconfirmed report hinted that the driver of the gasoline tanker must have lost control of the vehicle due to a possible brake failure and rammed into the bus park which incidentally caused monumental loss to both human lives and properties.

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