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Ancient tree falls, killing over 50 people

More than 50 people are feared dead and an unknown number of people were critically injured when a tall tree known as Osisi Ukwu Uko, collapsed on buildings, and on those transacting their business in a market located under the tree.

Read more after the break....
It was gathered that the tragedy struck at Umudagu Mbieri, Mbaitoli local council area of Imo State late Thursday night, following a heavy down rain that was accompanied by a ferocious windstorm and thunder.

Scene where an ancient tree fell Thursday  night, killing over 50.
The scene where the ancient tree fell on Thursday night, killing over 50 people.

It was also gathered that most of the victims were either traders, who were selling their wares in the market, their customers, some passers-by and others who were taking shelter in the town hall and the surrounding houses.

A boy, who simply gave his name as Emeka, told our source at the scene of the ugly incident that “about 50 bodies had been removed from the place”, adding that a woman whose leg was dismembered by the fallen tree, had been taken to hospital where medical personnel were battling to save her life.

The devastating rainstorm, which started at about 6pm on the fateful day, continued through the night and spilled over to the morning hours of Friday.

Some of the places damaged by the fallen tree included a segment the market stalls, the town hall and some private buildings located close to the tree.

More than 11 bodies, including a small girl, were dug out from under the weight of the fallen tree before our source left the scene of the tragic incident yesterday, even as the youths were still digging and combing the entire place for more bodies.

Lamenting over the ugly incident, the former state chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Marcellinus Nlemigbo, whose hometown is a stone throw away from the scene said, “the incident  was most devastating and has thrown the entire community into deep mourning”.
Continuing, Nlemigbo said: “The tree was a symbol of the community and no living person in our community can fully narrate the history attached to the tree. The tree had always been there until yesterday (Thursday night)”.

While debunking the rumour now making the rounds that the tree had fetish attachments to it, Chief Nlemigbo however expressed unhappiness that some elders in the community had severally resisted earlier arrangements to fell the tree.

One of the villagers who gave his name as Amarachi Obumunonye blamed the community’s elders for bluntly refusing initial plans to cut the tree.

He however recalled with grief that when some parts of the tree were trimmed about 20 years ago, the two individuals engaged to execute the job died a mysterious after about a week, adding that this lent credence to the belief that the gods residing in the tree had been angered.

Some villagers around the scene confirmed that a middle aged mad woman had May 14, 2013, warned the traders, who usually sold their wares close and under the tree to relocate or be prepared to face unpleasant consequences but this was largely ignored.

Wailing and lamentations coming from very close relations and sympathizers still enveloped the scene, while joint rescue operation from Umudagu youths, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, the Fire Service, policemen and men of the State Emergency Management Agency led by the Executive Secretary, Mrs. Uche Ezeonyeasi, were still working at press time.

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