Tragedy struck on Wednesday after a truck rammed into a school bus conveying pupils of Providence Nursery and Primary School at Nkwo Junction, in the Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The bus driver, seven pupils and a teacher were said to have died on the spot.
Nine other pupils, who were said to have sustained varying degrees of injury, were rushed to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, for treatment.
According to the Federal Road Safety Corps, a total of 21 people lost their lives in the crash with many injured.
A resident, Chidi Okoh, said the school bus was on motion when the truck driver, who drove recklessly, rammed into it.
“In the process, the truck pushed the school bus inside a big valley at Mmaku/Nkwo Junction. The narrowness of the road also contributed to the crash,” he added.
Nnaemeka Nwadu, the Cathedral Administrator of St. Michael’s Cathedral Parish Awgu, the parish overseeing the school, said the driver was taking the pupils to their homes when the incident happened.
Nwadu said, “The school bus was conveying the pupils back to their different homes but on getting to the Mmaku/Nkwo Junction, a truck which was descending Mmaku Road had a brake failure.
“It crushed and pulled the school bus with the pupils into the valley. In all, nine persons, including seven pupils, a teacher, Emmanuela Chukwugbo, and the driver, Basil Chukwu, died. Also nine persons are recovering.”
The Sector Commander, FRSC, Enugu State, Mr Ogbonna Kalu, said the accident occurred on Wednesday around 4.30pm.
Kalu on Thursday noted that the number of those injured could not be ascertained, adding that before road safety officials arrived at the scene, some parents had taken their injured children for treatment.
He blamed the accident on mechanical fault.
According to him, the truck lowbed had a problem while descending the sloppy road and rammed into the school bus.
“As I speak to you, 21 persons have been confirmed dead. The school bus had 51 schoolchildren of a Catholic primary school, a driver and two teachers.
“Also of note is that not all the deceased were schoolchildren. Those working by the roadside were part of the casualties,” he added.
The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, expressed sadness at the road accident.
In a statement on Thursday, the lawmaker called for detailed investigation into the crash to establish its immediate and remote causes.
Okechukwu, who represents Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency, condoled with the management, staff, and pupils of Presentation Nursery and Primary School, Awgu, as well as the Catholic Church and all those who lost their loved ones in the incident.