From SAMSON AKPU,Abakaliki
Another eight more dead bodies have been recovered from the Ezeiyiaku River in Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State where a 608 bus conveying over 36 persons plunged into the river.
This is in addition to the 14 dead bodies recovered on Saturday, last week, making it a total of 22 dead bodies so far recovered, while about 4 including the bus driver, were rescued alive.
The incident occurred last Friday night, involving members of Peculiar Church of Nigeria who were returning from a burial ceremony in Afikpo South Local Government Area of the State.
An eyewitness told AbeyaNews in Abakaliki that the divers hired to assist in the rescue were seen in the river without equipment such as safety mask, oxygen, boots among other gadgets needed for the rescue mission.
He described the situation as appalling, warning that if nothing was done urgently, the remaining corpses might be swept away by the flowing river.
Speaking from the scene of the accident, Mr. Nnemeka Nwobodo from Enugu State who whose elder sister died in the mishap, said: “We have been here since Saturday. After they brought out the bus, there has not been government presence any more. Although they have three divers from Port Harcourt, all through Sunday (September 20), there was no government presence. On Saturday, they were able to bring out the bus and that was all they did.
“Then today, they have been able to recover another four decomposing bodies, three women and a man who had already lost his hand to fish or the accident. The divers are entering water but they are entering the water without any of the protective gadgets. Usually, they will need to go in with oxygen and oxygen mask but now they can’t do that, they are just swimming like the other local divers trying to see the much they can recover.
“We have gone to the other village because the bodies of some of them have left the scene of the accident because of the flowing nature of the river that has moved the bodies away to the next village called Mgbede and after the Mgbede village river, they will enter another village river. So, all the effort today is for us to get across to the villagers for help.
“Yesterday, we were able to send a text to Governor Umahi who referred us to the local government Chairman of Ivo Local Government Area and we were able to get across to him. After a series of calls without answer, we told him we had spoken to the Governor and that was when he picked our calls, claiming that they had three boats and had been here.
But there are no boats in the river. The Chairman said he would send some people to attend to us but no body is here to assist.
“We have recovered eight bodies since after Saturday when Governor Umahi left. But from what the Pastor is saying, it is like the bus is a 38-seater bus with some attachments which makes it about 40 or more persons in the bus. The funniest thing now is that a National Television reporter is here now and they are taking him with the divers to go and pose with oxygen and other things to pretend that everything is alright but there is nothing like that.
“The only government presence here is the Federal Road Safety Corps. The former Local Government Chairman has been coming around and going. There is no official boat but we only have local boats and the divers are not agreeing to go in.”
Efforts to reach the Ivo LGA Chairman, Kings O. Ogbadu were unsuccessful. Calls to his phone were not answered but he was to respond with an SNS saying, “I am in a meeting. I’ll get back to you ASAP.”