Fifteen persons have reportedly died in an accident that occurred on Saturday night at a market in Iworoko Ekiti, Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
A truck, conveying customised bags of rice with the picture and name of a senator in a neighbouring state caused the accident.
It was said to have crushed two other vehicles before ramming into shops.
The incident has thrown the community into mourning.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that the truck lost control due to a brake failure at about 8.45 p.m.
He added that it crashed into three shops and crushed a mini commercial bus locally called “Akoto” with its passengers.
One of the shops, a barbing saloon, had some residents and students charging their cell phones.
The Nation gathered that among the 15 victims were students of the Ekiti State University (EKSU), a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, some residents, traders in the market and a mother and her child.
The strike by the Academic Union of Universities (ASUU) was said to have reduced the casualty figures as the affected area used to be densely populated with students when the school is session.
Angry Iworoko youths barricaded the dual carriageway that passes through the community.
A mob chased away a towing truck of the State Traffic Management Agency (EKSTMA), saying it came rather late to rescue the victims.
Governor Kayode Fayemi condoled with residents and families of the victims.
The governor dispatched his deputy, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, on a condolence visit to the community.
In a statement by his spokesman Olayinka Oyebode, the governor said he was saddened by the accident.
Fayemi, who noted that many lives had been lost due to recklessness of trailer drivers, said the government might be compelled to re-introduce some old laws and previous arrangements to deal with the menace.
The governor urged the community leaders and families of the victims to remain calm as “we collectively mourn the death of our beloved ones in the unfortunate incident.”
He added: “This is a huge tragedy and a painful experience, not only for the families of the victims but for all of us.
“We share with the people of Iworoko and families of the victims the pain and sorrow of the unfortunate development.
“Our prayer is that God will be with you during this painful period. The government will also look at areas of support with a view to ameliorating the pains.”
Egbeyemi expressed shock at the incident, which he described as “highly unfortunate”.
The Alaworoko of Iworoko Ekiti, Oba Michael Aladejana, was not in his palace when the deputy governor visited. He represented by his chiefs.
He called called for calm.
Egbeyemi was also at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), where bodies of the dead were deposited and the survivors were receiving treatment.
A hospital worker, who spoke in confidence, said 12 bodies, including those of EKSU students, were deposited at the morgue.
The immediate past Governor, Ayodele Fayose, also commiserated with families of the accident victims.
In a statement by his media aide, Lere Olayinka, the governor said the accident was disastrous.
He described the number of lives lost in the state in the last three months as alarming.
Fayose promised to assist the victims in his own little way, urging well-meaning Nigerians to come to their aid.
Also, the senator representing Ondo Central, Tayo Alasoadura, yesterday condoled with the families of the accident victims.
A statement by the senator’s media aide, Dayo Joseph, commiserated with the people over the accident.
The senator said the bags of rice were purchased from a rice mill in Kebbi State to encourage local production of the staple.
He added that the rice was meant for his constituents to enjoy the last Christmas/New Year celebrations among his gifts for the season but the delivery was delayed.
The statement said: “Our prayers are with the victims and I pray for the repose of the souls of the departed and the fortitude for their families to bear the irreparable loss. I also wish the injured quick recovery to return to their normal activities.”
The All Progressives Congress (APC) House of Assembly candidate for Irepodun/Ifelodun Constituency II, Hakeem Jamiu, also condoled with families of the victims.
A statement in Ado-Ekiti by his media office described the incident as a sad development.
It added: “On behalf of my campaign council, we extend our deepest commiseration to the families of the dead as well as the property lost to the incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of sorrow and grief.”
The politician cautioned drivers to desist from reckless driving.
He said: “We see this calamity as one that has befallen the whole state, not Iworoko town alone, as the host of the university community contributes immensely to the economic growth of the area and the state.”