The death toll in the accident involving a truck that crashed into a market at Iworoko Ekiti in the Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ekiti State on Saturday has risen to 15.
The accident occurred around 8.45pm when the truck that was coming from the Ifaki end of the Ifaki-Iworoko-Ado-Ekiti Road and conveying branded bags of rice lost control and rammed into the market located in the heart of Iworoko.
Eyewitnesses said on Sunday that the victims included some residents of the town; traders; some students of the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, who were charging their phones in the market; as well as a woman and her child.
Four of those who sustained injuries in the accident are receiving treatment at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, while the remains of some of the deceased had been deposited in the EKSUTH morgue.
Three shops and a commercial bus, which had some passengers in it, were crushed by the truck.
One of the shops was a barbing saloon, where some residents and students were charging their mobile phones before the accident occurred.
According to eyewitnesses at the scene, the casualty figure would have been higher if not for the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which was why many EKSU students, who always shopped in large numbers at the market area, were not around.
The aggrieved crowd at the accident scene, on Sunday, compelled the driver of a towing van belonging to the state government to drive off, saying it was nowhere to be found when the trapped victims needed rescue.
The Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi, who visited the scene, called for calm, saying youths of the community should not cause trouble as “no one wishes for this kind of tragedy to happen. And no amount of anger and violence will bring back those who died. So, let us be calm.”
“The state governor sympathises with families of those who have lost dear ones. We pray for their souls to rest in peace. The government will also ensure that those who were injured have their hospital bills paid. We will also take care of other things,” he added.
The deputy governor, who also visited the EKSUTH, told the doctors to begin urgent treatment of the injured, assuring that the bills would be paid by the state government.
Meanwhile, the senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial District, Tayo Alasoadura, admitted to owning the bags of rice being conveyed by the truck involved in the accident, and, expressed regret about the accident and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.
Alasoadura, in a statement by his media aide, Dayo Joseph, stated, “Our prayers are with the victims and I pray for the repose of the souls of the departed ones and the fortitude for their families to bear the irreparable loss.
“I also wish the injured ones quick recovery and return to their normal activities.”
He said the delivery of the rice, which he bought from a mill in Kebbi State for his constituents to enjoy the Christmas and New Year, was delayed.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has commiserated with the people of Iworoko Ekiti over Saturday’s accident in the town.
The governor, who had earlier directed his deputy to pay a condolence visit to the community on Sunday morning, said in a statement that he was devastated by the news of the accident.
Noting that many lives had been lost to the recklessness of truck drivers, he said the state government might be compelled to reintroduce some old laws and previous arrangements to deal with the menace.
On his part, the immediate past governor of the state, Mr Ayodele Fayose, also commiserated with the families of the accident victims.
Fayose, who called for prayers to avert incessant deaths in the state, in a statement by his media aide, Lere Olayinka, said, “The rate at which lives are being lost in Ekiti now is worrisome. I think it is spiritual and we must seek the face of the Lord for spiritual cleansing of our land.”
According to the statement, the former governor spoke during a condolence visit to the community on Sunday.
Fayose, who described the accident as disastrous, said the number of lives lost in the state in the last three months was alarming.
Meanwhile, the management of Dangote Industries Limited has denied ownership of the truck involved in the accident.
The firm said in a statement on Sunday that the truck did not belong to it as reported by some online media.