This is certainly not the best of times for the Okafors who are currently thrown into grief following the death of their bread winner in last Sunday’s plane crash in Iju area of Lagos.
More painful is the fact that the late Nwabuwa Okafor, was not a passenger in the ill-fated aircraft. The plane, it was gathered, crash-landed on his apartment while he was observing his siesta, killing him instantly.
The deceased had returned from morning mass that fateful day without the slightest inkling of the tragedy that loomed ahead. He reportedly slept in the sitting room, as was his habit every Sunday. Then, all of a sudden, there was a loud bang which was later discovered to be the plane crash. As everyone was scurrying to safety, it was obvious that Nwabuwa was deep in sleep.
In this interview with Vanguard, his brother who simply identified himself as Okey, said he went visiting the Okafors when tragedy struck.
According to him: “Immediately we heard the explosion, everyone rushed out of his apartment. Already I was in the sitting room where I sighted Nwabuwa sleeping. I also ran out, only to discover to my shock that a part of the plane crashed right into my cousin’s building.
I rushed inside to wake him up. But by then, it was too late as the whole building was vibrating, signifying an imminent collapse. I called out his name but there was no response. By then the beam of the building had started falling. Immediately I got to the entrance, I heard another explosion and this time around, there was fire from one of the wings of the plane. And before my eyes, I watched my brother engulfed by the fire. It was at that point that he made an attempt to stand up but he could not. Rather, he fell down on his face. At that point, I was helpless and all I could do was to rush out of the apartment.”
As if the death of Nwabuwa was not enough trauma for the family, his corpse as at 4pm, yesterday, was yet to be found. His relations thronged the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital(LASUTH), Ikeja, where, to their dismay, Nwabuwa’s name was not among the identified bodies.
Looking frustrated and exhausted, the deceased younger brother who identified himself as James Okafor, told Vanguard that efforts to trace the remains of his late brother had proved abortive since the incident occurred.
He said: “In fact since the crash, the problem we are faced with is how to locate his corpse. We have searched the designated mortuaries to no avail. All they have been telling us is that he was not brought to any of these places. The question begging for an answer now is, where is my brother’s corpse?
“First, I went to the Pathology department of LASUTH where the autopsy were made, only to be directed to Mainland mortuary. But on reaching there, we were told it was not there. Thereafter, I went to Saka Tinubu centre within the premises only to be told same thing.
“At first we thought he would be alive. But our worst fear was confirmed just this afternoon( yesterday) when one of his neighbours brought a photograph of when he was being brought out of the rubbles in a burnt state. The shot of the burnt corpse was taken right in the same sleeping position he was”, he said.
On what would be the family’s next line of action, James kept mute. But after a while, he replied, “our worst worry now is how to locate his corpse. After that, we will not carry the corpse until DANA airline tells us their line of action. Even if they claim they would pay a N100 million compensation as reported in the papers, will that bring back my brother”, he asked.