There were conflicting reports over the casualty figures of the Port Harcourt residents, who were electrocuted during a heavy downpour in the city yesterday.
Eyewitness account had put the figure of those who lost their lives when a 33KVA high tension line cut between Oginigba and Slaughter, Port Harcourt at 40 persons while no fewer than 30 were injured and hospitalised at various health institutions in the State.
However, the Rivers State Government, which has taken over the treatment of those injured, put the casualty figure at 10.
Meanwhile it asked Power Holding Company of Nigeria to produce a clean technical report on what happened as it insisted that any faulty line ought to have automatically shut off and wondered why the line cut and still had current in it.
Acting Chief Press Secretary to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi; Mr. Blessing Wikina who explained the government position said that only eight people died on the spot while another two died in the hospital to bring the total casualty to 10.
Although the number of people that died is still a subject of controversy due to the method of evacuation of the dead and wounded, eye witness accounts said it would not be less than 40 dead as the line reportedly fell on two buses and some smaller cars roasting all occupants.
Hundreds of residents who witnessed the evacuation of the charred remains of the victims to the morgue at Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, wailed openly some of the victims were burnt beyond recognition.
Initial acknowledgment of the deaths came from the Police Public Relations Officer in the State, Mrs. Rita Abbey who put the number of deaths at 10. When THISDAY visited the site, people who claimed to have been around when the incident happened disputed the number, pointing out that at least 11 bodies were removed from two buses which the line fell on before the effect of the live line with current killed many of those standing in waterlogged areas.
Rita had said in a text message to THISDAY that, “At about 0930hours, there was a report of a high tension wire falling due to the rain and electrocuting an unspecified number of persons around Slaughter Bridge, Port Harcourt. The number of death now is 10, while 12 are unconscious. All of them are now at BMH. But we are going to spread our tentacles to ensure that we give security to such persons and advise them on the danger of loading under high-tension wire.”
The area was immediately barricaded by the police who refused people taking photographs though the PPRO said the essence of barricading the area was to ensure that no one strayed into the death zone till PHCN assures that the place was safe again.
Contacted, Spokesman for PHCN in the Port Harcourt zone, Mr. John Onye attributed the tragedy to “line cut” but said they were still investigating what led to the unfortunate incident.
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