Atleat 14 persons have been confirmed dead and five others rescued and currently hospitalised after a Mercedes Benz 608 model bus plunged into Akeze-Ukwu river in Ebonyi State.
As gathered, the bus was conveying the 19 passengers that were leaving for Enugu State after attending their pastor’s burial when the vehicle suddenly veered off the road and plunged into the river.
The bus driver was said to have lost control of the vehicle while trying to overtake an articulated truck on the bridge but before he could complete the manoeuvring, the bus had moved in a speed that exceeded his imagination and it plunged into the river.
After the bus plunged, emergency officials led by Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) officials were said to have raced to the scene and rescued five passengers that have been rushed to the hospital for treatment.
Confirming the death toll, FRSC Sector Commander in Ebonyi, Stella Uchegbu, told newsmen yesterday that the bus had been retrieved with 14 persons that could not leave after it plunged into the river, just as she disclosed that professional divers from Port Harcourt and the local ones are still searching for more victims.
Uchegbu added that seven of the passengers were adult males and the others females and that their corpses have been deposited at the Mater Misericordae Hospital, Afikpo.
Uchegbu said that with five persons rescued earlier and 14 corpses retrieved, it was clear indication that there were more victims still missing, just as she refused to dismiss claims that over 19 persons were involved in the exercise.
According to her, the FRSC personnel are still on ground, maintaining free flow of traffic with the road cordoned to motorists the tragedy occurred on Friday, and divers are still working to ensure that no corpse is left in the river on retrieved.
Chairman of Ivo Local Government Area (LGA), Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, while reacting over the tragedy, disclosed that the state government hired divers from Rivers and Cross River to assist in the rescue efforts.