Emergency workers on Monday picked 25 more dead bodies from the scene of the Onitsha tanker fire that occurred on Sunday, thus increasing the figure from 50 to 85.
The Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Anambra State chapter, Prof. Peter Katchy, said this in his office in Onitsha.
He added that 29 others were still in critical conditions at various hospitals in the state.
Katchy spoke just as the Vice Chairman of the Onitsha Newspaper Distribution, Directors Association, Emmanuel Uwakwe, told PUNCH Metro that four members of the body were among the dead.
Katchy said, “The state Governor, Willie Obiano, shortly after visiting the scene on Sunday, gave a directive to the management of Toronto Hospital, which is not far from here, to give proper medical attention to all the injured victims of the incident at the expense of the government.”
The Senator-elect for Anambra Central Senatorial District, Uche Ekwunife, who was at the scene on Monday, described the incident as a national disaster.
Ekwunife promised to propose a legislation that would put an end to unnecessary loss of lives and property on the highways.
She said, “It is unfortunate that we continue to lose our loved ones in such careless manner. I want to express my deepest condolence to the families that lost their loved ones in this incident. I promise to make legislation along with my fellow senators that would put an end to horrible incidents on Nigerian roads.”
Families search for members
Relatives of the victims besieged various hospitals in the area on Monday in search of their members.
In Onitsha General Hospital, a medical worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said those admitted to the emergency and accident unit of the hospital had been transferred to the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University Teaching Hopsital, Awka, the state capital .
At the hospital, the leadership of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra in Anambra North Local Government Area said it had identified one Chief Donatus Nweke, the Regional Administrator in charge of the Anambra West Local Government Area, as one of the victims of the inferno.
The leader of MASSOB in Anambra North Zone, Mazi Chris Mocha, said the group was trying to prevail on the hospital management to release the remains of Nweke, 54, to them for burial.
Mocha said, “The sad news was broken to Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, the MASSOB leader, who commiserated with all the family members of the deceased. Now, we are in the hospital with Nweke’s wife to take the body home for immediate burial.”
Four newspapers distributors die
Uwakwe said the newspapers distribution association lost two distributors and two vendors.
He identified two of the victims as Ifeanyi Nzekwe and Ifeoma. He said he did not remember the names of the other two.
He said, “We are in pains and agony. We have visited the injured ones at the hospital where they are receiving treatment. What happened on Sunday is a national calamity.”
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Administration, DCP Makama, who also visited the scene, suggested that government should always take proactive measures in forestalling future occurrences by providing all the necessary materials in anticipation of fire outbreaks.
The Onitsha Unit Commander of the FRSC, Anthony Metta, said his men were still at the scene trying to handle the situation.
Buhari, Atiku mourn
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday extended his condolences to Governor Willie Obiano and the people of the state over the tanker fire .
Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, described the incident as a sad and unfortunate.
“My deepest sympathies are with you at this most trying time,” Buhari said in the statement.
Also, a former Vice President and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Atiku Abubakar, expressed shock and sadness over the incident.
In a statement in Abuja on Monday, Atiku said, “I commiserate with the government and the good people of Anambra State in whose abode this huge loss has taken place.”
Atiku advised motorists and road safety agencies on safe and considerate driving.