Theophilus Onojeghen, Warri
Three persons have been killed after a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado plunged into the Agbarho River in the Okuokoko/Agbarho end of the East-West Road, in the Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Six persons were said to be inside the vehicle when the accident occurred around 3.30pm on Saturday.
While three of the occupants, including the driver escaped from the vehicle, with number plate, Abuja DK 653 ABC, three others were reported to have died in the accident.
One of the survivors, who did not want to be identified, told PUNCH Metro during a visit to the scene on Sunday that a colleague had just alighted from the vehicle when it developed a fault.
The survivor explained that all the occupants were male and were returning from Bayelsa State, where they had gone to fix one of their company’s faulty trucks.
He added that the occupants were mechanics and electricians.
The victims were said to be workers of an indigenous construction company, owned by one Chief Solomon Olotu.
The survivor gave the identity of the deceased as Mr Jiwere Olotu, a cousin of the owner of the construction firm; a mechanic, identified only as Musa; and an electrician, one Lucky.
Another survivor, who identified himself simply as Freeborn, said, “We were returning from Bayelsa State when the Prado suddenly stopped working on top of the bridge. The steering and the brake refused to work before the vehicle fell into the river.
“The driver was not speeding. We had barely dropped one of our colleagues, who lives in Agbarho at the junction close to the bridge when the vehicle plunged into the river. We were coming from work. We were mechanics and electricians. We only stopped at Evwreni to eat and no one took any alcoholic drink.
“It was a terrible accident. We all struggled to escape from the vehicle. We could not see each other inside the water because the river was deep.
“I spent about 15 minutes before I was able to break one of the glasses to escape. Three of us made it out alive; we sustained bruises.”
Our correspondent observed that the vehicle was recovered by a team of professional divers with the help of a crane.
The incident resulted in gridlock on the road, as operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, diverted traffic to one lane to hasten the recovery operation.
A witness, who was involved in the operation, said, “As of this morning (Sunday), the remaining three persons have not been found. They may have been swept away by the wave. We are still searching for them. They will float by evening.”
The deceased had not been seen as of the time of filing this report, as the divers intensified efforts to recover their bodies.
The Delta State Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Mustafa, confirmed the incident.
He added that three persons survived the accident and had been discharged from the hospital where they were rushed to.
The police chief said efforts were on to recover the bodies of the victims who allegedly drowned.
While also confirming the incident, the state Sector Commander of FRSC, Mr Rindom Kumven, said three persons were killed in the accident.
He said, “We rushed to the scene, where the team, in conjunction with men of the Nigeria Police Force and local divers brought out the three male adults, who were later rushed to Agbarho Central Hospital.
“However, the other occupants trapped could not be rescued due to the current of the river. The vehicle belongs to S.O. Olotu Nigeria Limited, a construction company based in Osubi. The vehicle was returning from Bayelsa, where the artisans had gone to work, before the fatal crash. The search-and-rescue operation continues tomorrow (Monday) as efforts to bring out the remaining occupants failed.”
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