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15 electrocuted in Port Harcourt *As high tension wire falls on buses

By Jimitota Onoyume

NO fewer than 15 persons were feared dead Saturday morning in Port Harcourt when a high tension wire belonging to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) gave way and landed on two commercial buses, electrocuting the passengers on the spot. The sad incident occurred around Oginigba, very close to Slaughter – Trans Amadi part of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.

It was not clear at press time what  caused the high tension wire to fall  but eye witnesses said the  cable probably snapped because of the downpour that morning.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that besides the passengers of  the two commercial buses, some pedestrians and  motorists who fled the scene for their lives in the wake of  the pandemonium created by the sad incident also lost their lives.

One eye witness  said that some of the victims  rushed to a trauma centre in Port Harcourt were rejected on the grounds  that the centre only treat gun shot wounds and fractured bones. “This caused a major problem for some of us involved in the rescue operation because we were actually confused on where to rush the victims  to.”

Meanwhile, Rivers State  Police Command put  the death toll arising from the incident  at 10, adding that 12  others sustained various degrees  of burns  and were rushed to the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital , in Port Harcourt .

According to the state police public relations officer, Mrs. Rita Inoma Abbey, “It was an unfortunate incident this (yesterday) morning. High tension wire got cut between Slaughter and Oginigba.So far, we recovered 10  dead bodies  as a result of electrocution and deposited them at the morgue of BMH. Their identities and families are  being traced. 12 injured and unconscious persons were moved to BMH for treatment.”

She  said  the police had cordoned off the area from pedestrians and motorists.
“For now, we have barricaded the place and our men are everywhere to prevent people from moving around there so that they will not get hurt. However, we have contacted the PHCN and they are already doing something. They have already come there to remove the wire. Very soon everything will come back to normal”, the police spokes person said.

Mr. John Onyi, PHCN spokesman, simply described the incident as painful just as he apologized to families of victims of the incident. “The incident resulted from ‘wire cut,’ which fell on top of two buses loading under high tension wires. In 2005, 2006 and even in ongoing campaigns, we have been warning the people against trading and loading under high tension cables, which are risky ventures,” he said.

Secretary to Rivers State government  (SSG), Mr. Magnus Abbey,  in company of some commissioners, later visited the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital where some of the survivors were rushed to. Magnus assured them of government support. He also appealed to residents of the state to avoid building or doing business under high tension cables. Some of the survivors   were also at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Choba.

Before the SSG visited victims at the hospital, the fear was that about fifty persons  died in the incident.


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