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Lagos train accident: Survivors recount experience of black Thursday

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Thursday began on a good note for about 100 Lagos State civil servants when they set out for work. But it soon turned ugly when the bus they were travelling in was rammed by a train at the Shogunle railway crossing.

By the time the dust from the crash cleared, six of them had died while 79 were left injured with varying degree of inuries and battling for their lives in the hospital. At least, two women died on the spot,

The train’s registration number is 2215; the staff bus’ number is 04A-48LA.

The victims blamed the driver for being reckless as he made to cross the level crossing at PWD, close to Shogunle on the rail corridor.

A survivor, Kazeem Abiola, who sat by the door, said the bus was midway through the rail at the Shogunle level crossing when the train crashed into it.

He said the bus had sped past the train around Ladipo Bus Stop on the Old Agege Motor Road.

When they got to the PWD level crossing, they warned the driver to slow down and wait for the train.

“He shouted us down, thinking he could speed past before the train would catch up with us,” Abiola said.

“We warned him to allow the train to go, but he was adamant.

“Everybody was shouting, cautioning him, but he cared less.

“Half of the bus had crossed the rail track before the train hit us.

“The last I heard was the crash and I passed out.

“I regained consciousness here (LASUTH Emergency Unit).”

The train, on Iddo-Ijoko Mass Transit Train Service, was operated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

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The victims who suffered various degrees of injuries spoke at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.

Anuoluwapo Musa, a staff of the Lagos State Emergency Maintenance Agency (LASEMA) said that the bus, which was coming from Ikotun, picked him up at Jakande Estate.

He said he jumped and broke his arm.

“I was at the back when the incident occurred.

“I heard the bedlam as those in the front row were shouting down the driver. Not quite long, we were hit by the train.

“I was conscious enough to jump out of the bus while the train was still dragging our bus on the rail track,” he said.

Another victim said she also jumped out of the bus. She also suffered an arm injury.

The bus, which was navigating inward to Ikeja, was trapped by the train’s magnets, it was learnt.

Commuters paused to offer assistance.

The NRC, in a statement by the Deputy Director of Public Relations, Mamood Yakub, said the passenger train was coming from Ijoko in Ogun State to Iddo Railway Station in Lagos.

The statement reads: “The general public may wish to note that NRC had put in place level crossing control and management procedures necessary for preventing accidents by deploying mechanisms and level crossing staff that work at the level crossing across the country to prevent accidents.

“The Corporation is and will continue to appeal to all and sundry to please ensure restraint and strictly observe caution signs and instruction from officials when approaching railway level crossing and completely stop their vehicles when directed to do so by the Level Crossing Keeper and officials to ensure seamless movement of trains and safe crossing of the motorist as well as pedestrians.

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“We must also be aware that the Railway has the right of way in any city that has the benefits of train services, hence, the Railway track must be kept free from walking and trading at all times.

“All level crossings are manned 24 hours and the management of the NRC will not relent in its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of advising drivers and pedestrians to always comply strictly with instructions given by the railway staff at the level crossing.

“Meanwhile, we will continue to collaborate with Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), State Traffic Management Agencies such as Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASMA), etc, to ensure the prevention of incidents of vehicles colliding with moving trains.”

The Corporation commiserated with the people and government of Lagos and prayed for the repose of the dead while wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Minister for Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo expressed deep shock and sorrow over the accident.

The governor confirmed that six passengers died.

He said two died on the spot, four died in the hospital, and 79 others sustained various degrees of injuries.

Sanwo-Olu described the accident as “totally avoidable.

He said the driver only needed to exercise a little patience and follow proper transportation protocol, which requires a driver to wait at a level crossing.

The governor sympathised with the injured workers and commiserated with the families of those who lost their loved ones.

Sanwo-Olu declared three days of mourning and suspended his political campaigns in honour of the victims.

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He also directed flags to be flown at half-mast throughout the period.

Declaring it “a trying period” for the state, Sanwo-Olu directed that all offices should close at noon today.

“Lagos is in a state of mourning and for the next three days, I am suspending all campaign activities.

“All flags will be flown at half-mast and tomorrow (today) all civil servants will work till noon before returning home to be with their loved ones during this trying time,” he said.

The governor added: “There were 85 passengers on board the bus and the accident claimed the lives of six workers.

“According to the LASUTH classification scale, there are 42 moderate, 29 serious and eight mild injuries.”

Sambo, in a statement signed by his media aide, Samuel Idiagbonya, commiserated with the families.

He ordered a detailed investigation of the train incident.

Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, said the accident was caused by the recklessness of the driver.

According to him, rather than wait when he was flagged down by the flag man, the driver ignored the warning and drove against the oncoming train.

He said the driver was in custody and would be interrogated once he is stabilised.

The commissioner wondered why the driver refused to obey the flagman when warned of the approach of the train.

Oladeinde said the Shogunle axis where the accident occurred was on the Red Line Rail corridor.

He said it was one of the spots for which an overpass was being constructed by the NRC.

When construction is completed, the level crossing would be cordoned off to traffic, he said.

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Wigwe’s helicopter was seen as ‘fireball’ before crash, preliminary report says

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The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says law enforcement and witnesses in vehicles saw the helicopter carrying Herbert Wigwe, the group chief executive officer (GCEO) of Access Holdings Plc, as a “fireball” before its eventual crash.

 

The GCEO of Access Holdings was in the chopper with registration N130CZ alongside his wife, son and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group).

 

All six people onboard have been confirmed dead.

 

In a preliminary investigation report, the NTSB said the witnesses reported that the weather on the fateful day of the helicopter crash was a mix of rain and snow.

 

The board said the automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) technology built in the helicopter that provides the position of an aircraft, recorded an increase in ground speed before the crash.

 

“The accident flight departed Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) at 2045 under visual flight rules and flew a northwesterly heading for about 2 miles before following US Highway 111 to Interstate (I) 10 at altitudes varying between 2,500 – 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl),” the report read in part.

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“The helicopter continued along I-10, crossed over San Bernadino International Airport, San Bernadino, California, and then followed I-215 to I-15.

 

“The helicopter followed I-15 toward the planned destination of Boulder City Municipal Airport (BVU), Boulder City, Nevada, climbed between 4,000 – 5,500 ft msl, then descended to about 3,500 ft msl near Barstow, California, where the ADS-B track data was lost about 2146, likely due to terrain interference.

 

“ADS-B data resumed at 2207 near the Halloran Springs/I-15 exit west of the accident location. The last ADS-B data points for the flight tracked east-southeast, gradually descended in altitude, and increased in ground speed (see Figures 1 and 2).

 

“The accident site was located 0.31 miles east-southeast of the last data point at an elevation of about 3,360 ft msl.

 

“According to law enforcement, several witnesses who were traveling in vehicles on I-15, called 911 to report observing a ‘fireball’ to the south.

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“The witnesses reported the weather conditions in the area were “not good” and raining with a snow mix. The accident site was located by law enforcement at 2346.”

 

The board said the “wreckage was located in high mountainous desert and scrub brush covered terrain, and
debris were scattered about 300 ft along a 120° magnetic heading from the initial impact point”.

 

“All major helicopter components were identified at the accident site,” the report indicated.

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Lagos residents scoop fuel as tanker falls at Ojuelegba

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A tanker laden with has has overturned in the Ojuelegba area of Lagos on Friday. But despite the inherent danger, some residents of the area were spotted scooping the contents of the truck which spilled into the road.

 

Emergencies authorities, however, said no casualties were recorded and efforts are in top gear to clear the area.

 

According to them, “both driver and assistant escaped unhurt and in good hands at the scene of the accident”.

 

While giving details about the incident, it said: “A 33,000 litres tanker with registration number AAL 250 ZY conveying engine oil accidentally upturned while ascending the Dorman Long Bridge and spilt its content.

 

“Mopping up exercise is ongoing as chemical foam compound is been expended to neutralise the oil components from resulting in the secondary incident,” it added.

 

“Efforts are on the way to move in earth-moving equipment to recover the tanker as a backlog of traffic builds up beyond Ojuelegba Bridge.”

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Alleged N10 billion fraud: Court, police bar journalists from covering trial of Ex-Kwara Gov Ahmed

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The Federal High Court in Ilorin barred journalists from entering the court premises to cover the trial of the immediate past governor of Kwara State, AbdulFatah Ahmed.

 

Ahmed was brought to court on Friday for trial over N10 billion of the state fund he allegedly misappropriated.

 

The former governor was brought into the Federal High Court at Fare Road in Ilorin Court by 8:50 am for the trial.

 

The police and court registrar barred journalists from entering the court, saying that they’re acting on orders from above.

 

As of the time of filing this report, journalists were gathered on the street, awaiting the arrival of the judge, and the outcome of the trial.

 

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