By Sunny A. Ijomah
No fewer than twenty people lost their lives at Upper Iweka Onitsha when a tanker laden with kerosene lost control and crushed them.
According to an eyewitness, the tanker was driving along the service lane, lost control around Adam and Eve Motors, and started crushing, traders, vehicles, articles of trade along the service lane until it got to Oguta Road junction.
When our correspondent visited the scene of the accident at about 5.30pm Police men from Central Police Station Onitsha, led by the Divisional Police Officer, and Federal Road Safety Corp Onitsha and Anambra State Traffic Agency and Willie’s Work Force, WWF, were busy evaluating dead victims and those with injuries, including the affected vehicles from the road.
Many eye witnesses told our correspondent that the dead victims may not be less than thirty, while the wounded may be more than fourth considering the length from which the tanker started crushing everybody and thing it met while descending the ever busy Service Lane Upper Iweka where over forty different transport companies were located.
A Toyota Sieana belonging to Onitsha South Transport Company that was discharging passengers from Enugu on arrival was one of the vehicles crushed with the passengers as they were about alighting from the vehicle.
Many body parts and blood of the victims were seen littered along the way the tanker drove through before it finally at the public toiled building located at Upper Iweka.
Some of the victims of the accident both dead and a life were taking to Toronto Hospital Onitsha while other was taken to other nearby hospitals in and around Upper Iweka.
However, at about 5.58pm when our correspondent visited Toronto Hospital, more than 200 sympathizers were gathered in the compound of the hospital trying to catch a glimpse of the deemed and survived victims.
Doctors and nurses in the hospital were busy running round to save the lives of the surviving victims.
The Medical Director of Toronto Hospital Prince Dr. Emeka Eze who was away in United Kingdom, UK, was also heard instructing the doctors and nurses not to ask for any deposit from the victims, but to save their lives first.
He also orders for immediate blood transfusion for the surviving victims who may have lost a lot of blood in the accident.
The Matron of the hospital, Mrs. Ijeoma Ogoegbulam while speaking with our correspondent said 10 people were deposited in the hospital morgue, and out of the ten, two died at the Emergency Theater due to excessive loss of blood, while eight died at the scene of the accident before they were brought to the hospital.
Mrs. Ogomegbulam said seven surviving victims, four female and three male are currently being admitted in the hospital, adding that their chances of survival was very bright.
The Anambra State Chairman of the Nigeria Red Cross Society, Prof. Peter Katchy confirmed that seven persons died instantly.
He said three persons who sustained serious injuries were rushed to Pieter Specialist Hospital and to the Toronto Hospital, while one of the dead persons was beheaded completely.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Red Cross Society described the ugly incident as unfortunate suspected carelessness on the part of the tanker driver, stating that the number of victims and casualties could have been on the increase, if not for the state government‘s measures to discourage street trading.
Prof. Katchy lamented several state governments’ efforts aimed at securing the area, pointing out the dangers inherent in trading along the roads and streets.
Contributing an ATMA official, Mr. Eze Nduka who recalled similar incident that claimed several lives on the said area discouraged the issue of street trading and other business activities along the high ways.
When our correspondent called the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Anambra State Police Command, Mr. Mohammed Haruna, at about 6.20 pm his phone indicated that it was switched off.
The DPO of Central Police Station Onitsha Mr. Ifeanyi Ibru was too exhausted to speak to newsmen when he was approached for comment at the scene of the incident and at Toronto Hospital when he led his men to visit the survivors of the accident.