Divers have rescued five persons from the Akaeze-ukwu River in Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi as a ‘608’-model bus plunged into it on Friday evening.
The bus was said to have 38 passengers on board.
Mrs Stella Uchegbu, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Commander in Ebonyi told newsmen, in a telephone interview that the incident involved the bus and an articulated vehicle.
Uchegbu said that reports reaching her desk indicated that the rescued victims were unconscious and were taken to the hospital.
“We can, therefore, not confirm if any person is dead or not and the FRSC team (Ishiagu unit) is still at the scene for rescue efforts.
“The Afikpo unit team is, however, on standby in case any major thing ‘breaks’ this night to give back-up to the staff at the scene,” she said.
The sector commander further revealed that the victims are members of a particular church who attended the burial of their pastor in Afikpo and were returning to Enugu.
“There are, however, two versions of the incident as one held that the articulated vehicle tried to overtake the bus which made it (the bus) to lose control and another held that it was the bus which actually tried to overtake.
“There was no report of collision by both vehicles but the bus just lost control at the bridge and plunged into the river.
“We have not ascertained whether the bus was fully loaded or if the passengers observed COVID-19 social distancing but divers from the area managed to rescue five persons,” she said.
She further revealed that someone called to inform that his brother and wife were still trapped inside the river but the divers said they couldn’t continue because it was dark.
“God is alive and he can still preserve the victims,” she said.
Mr Chidi Ogbuatu, Coordinator of Akaeze Development Centre, also told newsmen on telephone that efforts were on to rescue the trapped passengers.
“The incident is horrible as the bus tried to overtake the articulated vehicle at the bridge with 38 passengers on board.
“We can confirm that five persons have been rescued as one of them, a woman had died at the time they were rescued,” he said.
Ogbuatu said that the Chairman of the council and the Commissioner for Works provided cranes to retrieve the trapped vehicle and the process is still ongoing.
“The bus is yet to be traced inside the river but the divers managed to retrieve the five victims.
“I have notified the state governor of the incident and we are hoping for the best,” he said.