No fewer than nine pupils of a private nursery and primary school between the ages of three and seven, were feared dead yesterday following a torrential rain in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital. The victims, all pupils of Living Foundation Nursery and Primary School located at the Tudun – Kauri area of the town, were reportedly consumed by flood after over four hours of heavy rain which started at about 6am.
An eyewitness, who gave his name as Emeka Akoro, said he was attracted to the scene of the incident when he heard a loud sound which emanated when the fence of the school collapsed at about 9am.
“When I got to the place, the compound was flooded as the fence gave way and most of the pupils were washed away by the flood. I quickly alerted people in the neighbourhood who tried to rescue some of the pupils trapped in classrooms,” Akoro recounted. He said six bodies were recovered within the school premises, while three others were later found in a gully along the street.
Akoro, who attributed the flooding in the area to poor drainage system and blocked drains, lamented that it had become a recurring decimal even as several lives and property had been lost. Unconfirmed reports indicated that some teachers, who were at the school when the rain started abandoned the pupils and ran for dear lives.
It was further gathered that tears flowed freely as sympathizers agonized over the inability of a rescue team from the state Fire Service to access the scene due to bad road and the high water current. Nasarawa State Chief Fire Officer, Alhaji Dogara, who confirmed the incident, blamed it on non-compliance with town and physical planning guidelines by property developers.
He lamented that the school authorities knew that the building was situated on waterway, but went ahead to erect the structures illegally. “I received a call from the Ministry of Works that there was problem in that area and you know, we all woke up to see heavy downpour and that signified there was problem because of lack of proper drainage. People erected buildings on waterways which is dangerous,” Dogara remarked in a chat with journalists.
Meanwhile, remains of the victims have been reportedly deposited at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital in Lafia, where the injured are also said to be receiving treatment. Neither the proprietor nor the head teacher of the school could be reached as at press time. But deputy police spokesman at the Nasarawa State Command, Cornelius Ocholi, said he had not been briefed on the incident.