Written by Ahmed Mohammed, Bauchi & Beatrice Onuchukwu, Awka
Thirty two passengers were killed yesterday when two mass transit buses collided and burst into flamesnear Azare, Bauchi State. Also, at least 18 other people died in a multiple accident at Onitsha, Anambra State, when a truck veered off the road and crushed seven other vehicles.
The crash near Azare involved two buses belonging to the Yobe State mass transit authority, Yobe Line, road safety authorities said.
One of the buses was heading to Potiskum from Kano and collided into the other one coming from the other direction, about 10 kilometers from Azare.
All passengers in the two vehicles were burnt to death.
Sector Commandant of the Federal Road Safety Commission in Bauchi State, Mr. Zakariyya Mamman, confirmed the accident to reporters in Bauchi.
“The accident occurred Thursday afternoon and it involved two Hiace buses, all the two buses are Yobe Line buses. The two buses went in to flames and killed all the occupants—23 males and nine females. Our men are presently making effort to evacuate their corpses to mortuary at Azare General Hospital,” he said.
Mamman said one of the buses was heading to Kaduna from Damaturu, while the other was travelling to Potiskum from Kano whey rammed into each other.
He said the accident was caused by impatience, over speeding and failure of the drivers to observe traffic regulations.
“The dualisation construction work is on going on the road and one of the roads was closed, but the drivers tried to follow the road that was closed in high speed may be because they were in a hurry but unfortunately they collided and went in to flames,” he said.
Mamman advised motorists to always be patient, observe traffic regulations and not use closed roads.
The BBC Hausa reported last night that all the victims were later buried in Azare.
In the Onitsha accident, a truck loaded with two 40-feet containers lost control and run over vehicles, killing 18 passengers at about 7am yesterday at the foot of the Niger Bridge in the commercial city.
Witnesses said that the accident occurred when some urchins collecting emblem fees allegedly for the Anambra State Government accosted the truck with registration number XM 858 MUS, making the driver to veer off his side of the road.
The emblem officials at the bridgehead pursued the truck when it was entering Onitsha from Asaba and they tried to use wood with nails to deflate the tyres so as to force the driver to stop. The driver tried to dodge them only to lose control of the vehicle and ram into other vehicles on the road.
Seven vehicles, four of them commercial buses and the other three private vehicles, travelling from Onitsha to Asaba, were involved in the accident. Some of the cars were crushed beyond recognition, while others fell into roadside ditches.
Many passengers were killed in the four buses, with registration numbers XA 556 BUR, XD 566 ABN, XA 893 ACA and AWK 526 XA.
Rose Iwuno, who is one of the survivors, said the accident was caused by the urchins.
“We were going to Asaba through the other lane, but suddenly our driver noticed that the driver of the truck with two containers which was coming into Onitsha was trying to control his truck.
“Our driver tried to escape it but it was already very late, other vehicles were at both sides and even at the back. Then, most of us passed out but what I could remember was a heavy sound, that was when one of the containers from the truck fell off and crushed a bus in front of us before rolling down towards our own bus,” she said.
When our reporter visited the scene of the accident, dismembered parts of human bodies were seen scattered around, while five victims were trapped under one of the containers.
As at 8.30am when our reporter went to the scene, there was no road safety official around as trapped victims bled and cried for help.
The incident took another dimension when a mob set the make-shift office of the emblem collectors ablaze but by that time the urchins who caused the accident had fled.
A construction company later brought their equipment to lift the container, while bodies of those who died were taken to an undisclosed mortuary and injured victims were taken to hospitals.
When contacted the Unit Commander of FRSC, Onitsha, Mr. Fredrick Oko, confirmed the accident saying he was still collating the number of casualties. He later said he could confirm the death of only two people.