From TUNDE RAHEEM, Akure:
An excursion that was supposed to be a learning process for pupils of Aricent Nursery and Primary School, Ore, in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State ended on a sad note, as no fewer than 42 pupils died in a fatal auto accident on Ondo/Ore road. It was gathered that the pupils were returning from Idanre, which they visited on excursion when the accident occurred at 8.15pm.
The pupils, who lost their lives in the accident, were between six and 12 years.
Saturday Sun gathered that the school bus, which conveyed the pupils and some staff of the school, collided with a trailer. Eyewitness revealed that 38 pupils died on the spot, while four others, including a youth corps member attached to the school and the proprietor of the school, died at Ore General Hospital.
A woman identified as Mama Iyabo lost three of her children in the accident, while another woman, who lost her only child, is in a coma at Ore General Hospital due to the shock.
The public relations officer of Ondo State police command, Alhaji Adeniran Aremu Adeniran, confirmed the incident, but said only 28 pupils died in the accident.
Some of the students, who sustained different degrees of injuries, have been taken to Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife for better treatments.
Meanwhile, the Ondo State government has sympathized with the family of the dead pupils.
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ranti Akerele, said: “The state government is terribly touched by the news of the death of the pupils; it is a great loss to the state.”
Akerele said the state government did not approve the school and that the proprietor did not get approval from the Ministry of Education, as required, before proceeding on the excursion.
“It is the duty of any public or private school in the state to notify the Ministry of Education before embarking on excursion. This will enable the government to provide adequate security for the pupils and necessary logistics that will make the excursion a success. We are touched by the sad news. We don’t handle children issue with levity and that is why we are always proactive on matters that affect them,” Akerele said.
The commissioner however appealed to the Federal Government to dualise Ondo/Ore road.
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