One corpse was recovered out of 14 passengers in a vehicle that plunged into River Rima Bridge, along Tashar Illela on Sokoto-Kware-Illela road in SokotoState, due to flooding.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that a commercial vehicle, carrying 14 passengers on Thursday, plunged into the river as water submerged the road including the bridge.
A Rescue Officer from National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Mr Aminu Ambursa, told NAN that as at Saturday morning, only one dead body was recovered and taken to Specialist Hospital Sokoto.
Ambursa said the rescue was still in progress by combined efforts of police, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) Sokoto State and Federal Fire Services.
He said other officials were from Sokoto State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and Transport unions.
He explained that the rescue became tough due to high volume of water that flooded the whole area.
According to him, officials have to seek assistance from construction firms for heavy duty crane, local divers and canoe divers for the mission.
Ambursa said the passenger vehicle involved in the accident was spotted, but however, could not be removed because it was hooked to a deep hole and passing water was still much.
Another rescue official from the federal fire service, Muhammad Jibril, said efforts were still in progress to remove the vehicle along with human bodies.
A local diver, Muhammadu Sada, said they deployed different tactics to save the passengers’ lives, stressing that the high water level contributed to the mission’s difficulties.
Sada explained that the area had not recorded such flooding in a long while and cautioned road users to beware of crossing the bridge because of the magnitude of the flood.
A resident, Maccido Ibrahim, told NAN that the public voluntarily contributed money for local divers.
“We raised N8,000 from the contributions and a philanthropist, Alh. Ahmadu Maidoya, and others contributed about N80,000 for canoe and local divers,” he said.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of Sokoto State Ministry of Environment, Malam Abubakar Gani, said the Commissioner, Alh. Sagir Bafarawa, was not in town.
Gani said the ministry and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) were aware of the situation, however, could not speak on their contribution to save peoples’ lives, being the responsibility of the ministry.
The PRO assured to update the media on the situation, noting that the ministry had earlier alerted residents on the possibility of the flood and advised people to use alternative routes.
A Public Analyst, Prof. Bello Bada, said the incident portrayed poor training and lack of techniques on disaster management and rescue operations by Nigerian officials.
Bada, from Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto, said the situations could attract public demonstrations as obtained in other countries where they value human lives. (NAN)