The Lagos State Government yesterday confirmed that 12 persons died in last Thursday’s tanker fire on the Otedola Link Bridge of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The government will prosecute the tanker owner and driver over the incident.
Commissioner for Health Dr Jide Idris and Commissioner of Police Imohimi Edgal made these known at separate briefings in Alausa, Ikeja, yesterday.
Idris said 10 of the victims including a minor, died at the accident scene; the others at the hospital.
He urged private hospitals with the accident victims to provide such information to his ministry for proper collation.
The 10, he said, were taken from the accident scene “completely burnt” to the Yaba Mainland Hospital.
He said: “Seven people were taken with varying degrees of burns to our various hospitals. First at our Accident and Emergency Centre at the Toll Gate; Trauma and Burns Centre, Gbagada General Hospital and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, (LASUTH), Ikeja. Of the seven, unfortunately, we lost one of them that had a degree greater than 80 per cent burns.
“Right now, we have only five left and they are being treated; nobody received any money to treat them. They were treated free of charge. We also received report over the weekend that some cases may have been taken to some private hospitals.
“So far, we are aware of only two of the hospitals and one of the victims has died.”
Idris said two men aged 42 and 48, were taken to the Burns and Plastic Unit LASUTH.
One of them has been discharged; the other is stable and responding to treatment.
“While commiserating with the families of the victims, who lost their lives and property in the unfortunate fatal explosion, I wish to state that the state government has left no stone unturned.
“The government will continue to do the needful in addressing and managing all the issues surrounding the inferno,” the commissioner said.
Idris said, “the government would be conducting DNA forensic studies so that the right bodies can be handed over to the appropriate families for burial. This entails obtaining samples from very close relations of these victims and matching these with samples taken from the charred remains.”
Samples, according to him, would be taken from relatives in this order: “mother/father of victim; child of victim; sibling of victim; uncle or aunt of victim.”
He asked such relatives to go to the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre, 48 Broad Street, Lagos Island (opposite CMS Bookshop) for the collection of samples from 10am-3pm Monday to Friday.
“Contact person is the Head of the Centre, Dr. Richard Somiari, with phone number 08075537342.
“At the same time, our pathologist would commence the necessary autopsies on the victims starting from tomorrow (today). An estimate of about two to three 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,” he said.
Idris said the cost of management and treatment of the surviving victims and DNA forensics for the dead and their families would be borne by the government.
Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) General Manager Adeshina Tiamiyu, said: “Not everybody is required to go for the DNA samples.
“When the relations come, samples will be taken; from there, it will be cross-matched with samples taken from the victims.
“When these are matched, we will be able to determine who the bodies represent and after this, we will hand over to the families of the victims. All of these are done free of charge, both the treatment and DNA test,” he said.
Tiamiyu said LASEMA had opened an Emergency Help Centre to counsel victims’ relatives.
Edgal, who briefed reporters after the Security Council Meeting chaired by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, said the attorney-general had drafted the charges to be prepared against the owner and driver.
The government, he said, would not allow vehicles that pose danger to residents on the road.
“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, Adeniji Kazeem, 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 test; they must go through the whole hog and get the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) certificate of road worthiness.
He said the government had directed the security agencies to intensify law enforcement, especially the traffic law, to ensure safety on the roads.
Kazeem said victims’ families had started submitting samples for DNA test, adding: “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.”
The Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria yesterday sympathised with the government and victims of the incident.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Abd’ Rahman Salaudeen, the group prayed that such terrible incident would never occur again.
“The society enjoined the state government to take measures to ensure tanker owners and drivers obey the State Traffic Laws to make our roads safe for motorists. The tanker owners and drivers should to adhere to road safety rules. We commended the efforts of Lagos state government through its agencies for ensuring the disaster is reduced by their quick response,” he said.