Theophilus Onojeghen, Warri
Three persons reportedly died when a Land Cruiser Prado Jeep plunged into the popular Agbarho river along the Okuokoko/Agbarho section 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 at about 3:30pm on Saturday.
While three of the occupants including the driver escaped from the Jeep with registration number: Abuja DK 653 ABC; three others were alleged to have died from the accident.
The victims were said to be returning from Bayelsa State when the accident took place.
One of the survivors of the accident who declined to give his name told The PUNCH correspondent, who visited the scene of the accident on Sunday morning that they had just dropped off a colleague when the car started malfunctioning.
The source 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.
It added that the occupants were motor mechanics and electricians.
The victims were said to be staff of an indigenous construction company.
A staff of the company gave the identity of the deceased to include one Mr Jiwere Godsend Olotu, a cousin to the owner of the construction firm and a mechanic, Lucky (electrician) and Musa (mechanic).
Narrating the accident to our correspondent, another survivor who identified himself simply as Freeborn said “We were returning from Bayelsa State when the Jeep suddenly stopped working on top of the bridge. The steering and the brake refused to work before six of us and the vehicle fell into the into the river.
“The driver was not on speed. We had barely dropped one of our colleagues who lives in Agbarho at the junction close to the bridge when the jeep plunged into the river. We were coming from work. We were all mechanics and electricians. We only stopped at Evwreni to eat and no one took a drink.
“It was a terrible accident. We were all battling to escape from the vehicle. We were not seeing each other inside the water because the place was so deep.
“I spent over 15 minutes before I was able to break one of the glasses to escape. Everyone was battling for safety when I left. Three of us escaped. We all sustained bruises.”
Our correspondent observed that the white Jeep which the victims were travelling with was however recovered and evacuated by a team of professional divers with the help of a train loader to a Police Station in Agbarho.
The incident resulted in heavy gridlock along the highway as operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and FRSC officials diverted road users to one of the lanes at the section of the road where the accident took place to quicken the search operation.
A witness, who was involved in the rescue operation said, “The remaining persons were found dead inside the Jeep yesterday (Saturday) but could not been rescued because the vehicle was locked. But as at this morning (Sunday) they might have followed the wave. We are still searching for them. They will float by evening.”
The deceased corpses had not been seen at the time of filing this report as the divers intensified efforts to recover their missing bodies.
When contacted, the Delta State Police Commissioner, Muhammad Mustafa, confirmed the incident.
He added that three persons survived the accident and had been discharged from the hospital where they were rushed.
The police chief stated that efforts were still on to recover the bodies of the remaining victims who allegedly drowned in the process.
While also confirming the incident, the State Sector Commander of FRSC, Mr, Rindom Kumven said the search was still on to recover the bodies of the victims.