Streaks of dried blood, broken glass, and wrung metal plates lined the rail tracks right opposite the PWD Bus Station, Shogunle, Ikeja, Lagos State.
Trapped in the squashed vehicle were sweaty faces, tired breaths, and bloodied bodies, struggling to find their way out to the rays of the morning light above.
Earlier, residents watched in shock how an oncoming train collided with a staff bus, filled with passengers en route to the Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, from Ikotun, pushing them metres away before coming to a halt.
The driver of the BRT bus had veered into the rail track despite signs from the level crossing flag bearers and other motorists urging him not to do so as a train was oncoming.
Many eyewitnesses, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH, claimed that the BRT driver plugged in earphones as he drove the staff through the level crossing.
A trader, Mrs Mmesoma Akachi, who sold wares at the rail track, told our correspondents that the driver paid no attention to the flag bearers who flagged him to stop with the red flag.
She said, “The driver is very reckless and impatient. He should have waited. It will not take too long before the train will pass and he will have his way. But, no, he decided to rush through. Now, see the mess he made.”
Another trader, Chika Joe, said, the incident happened too fast.
She had just arrived at her shop and was arranging some wares when she saw smoke billowing from a distance.
“I saw a train pass and buses waiting. But I did not know that the BRT driver refused to wait. In fact, they were whistling at him, shouting and flagging him to stop. But he refused. Maybe he was in a hurry,” she said with baited breath.
The trader added that in a few minutes, she saw the train had carried the BRT down to the other side of the level crossing, smashing into a fence.
The remains of a young woman covered in a pool of blood were seen between the tracks.
Residents said she had attempted to jump off the train but hit her head on a slab of stone, which made her bleed to death.
“It all happened in a split second. One moment, the bus was waiting. Another moment, he had ‘jumped’ onto the level crossing, causing a crash,” an eyewitness, simply identified as Chioma, told one of our correspondents.
Corroborating Chioma’s claim, a Chief Mechanical Engineer and Lagos District Manager, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mr Augustine Arisa, said the train which collided with the Lagos State Staff BRT pushed it 100m further before finally making a stop because of the high velocity the train came with.
A lady who gave her name as Raji told the doctor who was taking notes of her injuries, “The accident threw the people in the bus in different places and I remember landing on my back on a piece of hard iron. I have been having pain since then,” she said.
One of the accident victims, who gave his name as Chinedu, told Saturday PUNCH that the driver must have miscalculated because he had been a driver for more than a year and had a clean record.
He said, “He has been driving the bus for like one and a half years. He usually has a phone which he places on the dashboard to communicate with his superiors and also to play music; I just believe he miscalculated. It was an accident. I don’t recall how it happened, but I was standing close to the door and that is probably why I didn’t sustain more than a cut on my head.