Seventeen out of 32 occupants of a 608 bus that plunged into a river along the Akaeze-Ishiagu bridge in Ebonyi State on Friday have been confirmed dead.
Fourteen of the deceased victims were found dead around 2pm on Saturday when a crane brought out the bus from the river while three of the five persons rescued on Friday had died.
The Federal Road Safety Sector Commander in the state, Stella Uchegbu, gave the update on Saturday in a telephone interview with Sunday PUNCH.
Our correspondent had reported that the bus was carrying church members returning to Enugu from a burial in the Afikpo area of Ebonyi when it plunged into the river while the driver was trying to overtake a truck.
Uchegbu stated that some divers from Port Harcourt, had joined in search for the missing victims.
She said, “Trapped inside the vehicle were 14 bodies; seven males and seven females – all adults. They have been conveyed to a state hospital mortuary. The total of persons recovered so far is 19.
“Out of the five recovered last night, one died on the spot. Four were conveyed to a hospital out of which two died subsequently. Two, including the driver, are still receiving treatment.”
Meanwhile, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday, mourned the victims of the crash.
His condolence message was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled ‘President Buhari sympathises with Ebonyi State following Akaeze-Ukwu River tragedy.’
Also, the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, who visited the scene of the accident on Saturday, sympathised with the families of the victims.
The governor, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Francis Nwaze, urged drivers to refrain from reckless driving.