Otedola Bridge tanker incident: Death toll now 12

The exploded tanker in flames

LAGOS State government on Monday disclosed that death toll from the tanker explosion at Otedola Bridge end of Lagos-Ibadan expressway has increased to 12 from initial nine that was reported.

The sad incident, which also led to the destruction of 54 vehicles, occurred last Thursday, June 28, 2018.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, disclosed this at a press briefing in Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, just as he also announced the opening of a DNA sample collection centre, to assist in identifying the bodies at the mortuary.

This was just as the state government shortly after Monday’s security meeting said it was perfecting plans to prosecute the owner and driver of the ill-fated fuel tanker.

The commissioner, while speaking on the death toll, said the increase was due to the level of burns suffered by the victims, saying some of the victims sustained 90 percent degree of burns during the explosions.

“At the close of emergency operations, we recorded 10 deaths, including a minor who were all burnt beyond recognition and seven injured.

“Of the seven patients received at three of our hospitals, Accident and Emergency Center at Tollgate, the Trauma and Burns Centre in Gbagada and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH for prompt treatment, regrettably, we lost one few hours over the weekend because he suffered 90 per cent degree of burns, increasing the number to 11.

“While still battling with the causalities figure, we were informed at the weekend that two persons, who suffered burns, were rushed to a private hospital in the state. Of these persons, one has died. And this increased the number of victims from the explosion to 12 persons,” the commissioner said.

He, therefore, urged any private hospital that still had victims of the explosion in their custody to alert the state government for collation and treatment, saying that all patients in government hospitals were treated free.

Speaking on the DNA test, the commissioner said the exercise was being put together for proper identification of bodies from the scene, stressing that DNA sample centre would only collect samples from relations of victims and matched them with the charred remains.

According to him, samples are to be collected from mother/father, child, sibling, uncle or aunt of those who suspected their family members to be among the victims of the disaster, saying those listed were to report to the Lagos State DNA and Forensic centre on Broad Street, opposite CMS Bookshop.

“In order for this to be done, we would be taking samples from relations from this order: mother/father of the victim, child of the victim, sibling of victim and victim’s uncle or aunt. And the centre would open 10 am and 3 pm between Monday and Friday,” he said.

Idris added that pathologist would commence the necessary autopsies on the victims starting from Tuesday, saying samples received would be needed to complete the DNA process in about two or three weeks from now.

“An estimate of about 2-3 weeks from the time the samples are received would be needed to complete the DNA process, results would be interpreted and bodies properly tagged. Thereafter, death certificates would be issued to the confirmed family members,” the commissioner said.

Meanwhile, the state government has said that it is perfecting plans to prosecute the owner and driver of the ill-fated fuel tanker which exploded last Thursday on Otedola Bridge inward Ojodu Berger along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The State’s Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, said on Monday, while briefing newsmen after the Security Council Meeting chaired by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

Edgal said investigations into the incident were ongoing, saying that government would not allow vehicles that posed a serious danger to residents on the road.

Already, the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem had at the weekend written to the CP to advise him on the relevant provisions of the law that could guide the ongoing investigation which would lead to possible prosecution.

Edgal, who briefed journalists alongside heads of other security agencies in the State, confirmed receipt of the letter. specifically commiserated with those who lost their loved ones to the tragic incident, while also commending emergency responders who quickly raced to the scene to keep the causality figure low.

“As regards investigation into the matter, it is in top gear. I have just received a letter from the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice which stated very clearly charges which we are going to prefer against the driver and the owner of that tanker.

“Henceforth, we are using this opportunity to call on all tanker drivers, all lorry drivers, all owners of such articulated vehicles to please submit those vehicles for Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) test; they must go through the entire hub and get the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) Certificate of Road Worthiness. We will not allow such vehicles which obviously pose a serious danger to other road users on our roads,” Edgal said.

He said the government had already directed security agencies to intensify enforcement of relevant laws, especially the State Traffic Law, with the view to ensuring that the roads and highways in the State were safe for commuters to ply without any danger.

The police chief also urged residents to always refrain from converging on the scene of an accident of such magnitude as that of the unfortunate tanker fire incident, saying there could be a secondary explosion which could lead to loss of lives.

Speaking on other issues deliberated at the meeting, Edgal said the Council reviewed the security situation in the state since the last time it met, saying it was gratifying to note that there had been 17 per cent reduction in violent crimes in the period under review.

He also allayed fears over the renewed threat of militancy in the creek areas of Epe, Imota and Agbowa, assuring that state government, in collaboration with security agencies, was on top of the situation.

“We have just concluded the Security Meeting Chaired by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, and a wide range of security issues were discussed but most importantly some of the threats which we are currently having in certain parts of the State.

“The first one relates to the renewed threat of militancy around the creeks of Epe, Agbowa, Imota and the action that we are taking. There is a good synergy between the security agencies and the locals in ensuring that we keep some of these militants who want to come into the State from Ondo waters to try to disturb the peace of the State.

“We are calling on all those who are in the riverine communities to continue to partner with security agents to ensure that when they see strange movement, they quickly alert security agencies so that we can keep them safe. For now, I can assure Lagosians that those areas are being properly policed and security is tight in those areas,” Edgal said.

Besides, Edgal appreciated Lagosians for credible information which had aided the fight against kidnapping, cultism, drug sale and drug abuse in the State, revealing that operatives of the Command recently intercepted a container with over 37 cartons of Tramadol which would have gotten to the public if not for prompt action of security agencies, just as he urged residents to continue to support security agents.

On the scheduled visit to Lagos by French and Namibian presidents in the coming days, Edgal urged residents to show the hospitality the state was known for while appealing for cooperation in the eventuality of road diversions and restrictions.

Giving update on the tanker accident, the Attorney General, Kazeem, said families of the victims had started submitting relevant samples to aid DNA test, saying: “I can confirm that today, families who lost their loved ones to the accident have started reporting at the Lagos State DNA Forensic Centre for submission of reference samples that would be used to identify victims.”

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