The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ebonyi has confirmed the retrieval of 14 corpses from the Akeze-Ukwu river after a Mercedes Benz 608 model bus plunged into it on Friday evening.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bus was conveying members of a particular church who attended their pastor’s burial and were returning to Enugu when the incident occurred.
The bus driver was said to have lost control of the vehicle while trying to overtake an articulated vehicle on the bridge but five victims were rescued unconscious on Friday.
Mrs Stella Uchegbu, FRSC Sector Commander in Ebonyi, told NAN on telephone on Saturday that the bus had been retrieved with 14 persons aboard.
“Seven males and seven females, all adults were inside the vehicle all and they were all dead.
“Their corpses have been deposited at the Mater Misericordae Hospital, Afikpo, but both professional divers from Port Harcourt and the local ones are still searching for more victims,” she said.
Uchegbu said that with five persons rescued on Friday and 14 corpses retrieved on Saturday, it was clear that there more victims still missing.
“This sums to 19 recovered persons as against the expected 32 passengers on board the bus.
“The FRSC personnel are still on ground, maintaining free flow of traffic with the road cordoned to motorists since Friday,” she said.
Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, Chairman of Ivo Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, disclosed that the state government hired divers from Rivers and Cross River to assist in the rescue efforts.
“The divers located the bus inside the river, pushed it to enable the crane pull it from the river,” he said.
Sources close to NAN revealed that the driver was one of the persons rescued on Friday and he disclosed when he regained consciousness that 32 persons were inside the bus.
“The driver said he managed to dive from the bus as it plunged into the river,” the source claimed.