No fewer than 30 corpses of victims of the Onitsha tanker fire disaster which occurred on Sunday have been dumped outside a mortuary in the state, even as the death toll from the disaster has risen to 85.
The casualty figure was disclosed yesterday to newsmen in Onitsha by Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Anambra State chapter, Prof. Peter Emeka Katchy. He said 29 others were still under critical conditions in various hospitals in the state.
Katchy also confirmed that Governor Willie Obiano had shortly after visiting the scene on Sunday, directed the management of the nearby Toronto Hospital to give proper medical attention to all the injured victims at the expense of the state government.
Also, Senator-elect for Anambra Central Senatorial District, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, yesterday described the tanker fire accident as a national disaster.
She condoled with the families of those who lost their lives in the incident.
Ekwunife, who said she cut short her official engagements to inspect the scene of the carnage, expressed sadness over the loss of innocent lives in such circumstances.
Meanwhile, emotions yesterday rose in Onitsha as sympathisers and relatives of the victims of the petrol tanker crash besieged various hospitals in search of their missing loved ones.
A conductor of one of the L300 buses who escaped from the inferno, Mr. Innocent Obioma, told Nigerian Pilot that his boss was caught up in the fire when he tried to save some passengers trapped in the buses in the Asaba Motor Park.
Apart from the human casualties, 14 mini-bus, three tricycles and a motorcycle were burnt when the tanker laden with fuel lost control due to brake failure and crashed into the park located on the Upper Iweka axis of the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway.
Nigerian Pilot gathered that hospitals and mortuaries where some of the victims were receiving treatments and the corpses deposited, had clusters of people, mostly relatives of the victims and sympathisers who had besieged there to identify their relations.
Chief Medical Director of Toronto Hospitals, Onitsha, Dr. Emeka Eze, said that those admitted in the hospital were in stable conditions.
Eze said that the hospital had all the necessary medications and equipment to handle the cases and that those admitted were responding to treatment.
At Onitsha General Hospital, a medical staff who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that those admitted in the emergency and accident unit of the hospital had been transferred to the Anambra State University Teaching Hospital, Amaku in Awka.
“Those wounded have been transferred as early as 5am to Amaku Teaching Hospital,’’ he said.
Security personnel manning the gate at Borromeo Mission Hospital, Onitsha restricted people who came to commensurate with the survivors.
About 30 corpses were dumped in an open place near the mortuaries in Toronto Hospital and Onitsha General Hospital.
MASSOB identifies chieftain among dead victims
At the Onitsha General Hospital, the leadership of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB in Anambra North Local Government Area, said they had identified one Chief Donatus Nweke, its Regional Administrator in charge of Anambra West Local Government Area as one of the victims.
Speaking to newsmen at the hospital premises while trying to prevail on the hospital management to release the remains of the late Nweke to them for burial, the leader of MASSOB in Anambra North Zone, Mazi Chris Mocha, said the 54-year-old victim who hailed from Amagu village, Amuri in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State, until his death, was a pioneer member of the movement in Anambra State.
According to Mocha, “When the sad news was broken to Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, the MASSOB leader yesterday, he commiserated with all the deceased family members and prayed that God, in His infinite mercy, should grant them the fortitude to bear the heavy loss.”

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