New Telegraph

Sudan Crisis: Bus Conveying Stranded Nigerians Catches Fire

One of the buses conveying stranded Nigerians from Khartoum, to Port Sudan, caught fire in the early hours of yesterday even as Egypt has finally opened its border for Nigerian students being evacuated from the crisis hit Sudan.

According to reports, 26 buses conveying the stranded Nigerians left Al Razi around 12 am yesterday for Port Sudan where they will be taken to Saudi Arabia by boat. Explaining what happened, the Chairman, Nigerians Elders’ Forum in Sudan, Hashim Na’Allah, said 50 students were conveyed in the bus, but no one was injured or died during the incident.

“One of the buses conveying some 50 Nigerian students from Sudan with a tag number (Katsina 1) heading to Port Sudan as part of the second batch of FGN evacuation got damaged due to excessive heat from one of the vehicle’s tyres.

“The incident happened around 2:30 am (Sudan time) with 50 students in the bus. The driver stopped the bus near an RSF checkpoint, just before the tyre exploded, causing a fire. “All the passengers escaped unhurt.

Forty of the 50 passengers were later distributed to the other buses evacuating the students, while the remaining passengers spent the night where the incident happened alongside the driver at the RSF checkpoint.

“The students said the RSF really did their best to help the passengers and of – fered them cups of tea in the morning before they left,” Na’Allah explained. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is currently locked in battle with the regular Sudanese army over the control of the vast country.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has confirmed that Egypt has finally opened its borders for Nigerian students being evacuated from Sudan. Dabiri-Erewa said the border was opened after President Muhammadu Buhari spoke with Abdel Fattah ElSisi, the Egyptian president.

Dabiri-Erewa’s statement came a few hours after the Commission said Egypt’s borders were still closed despite the arrival of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in the North African country to airlift the stranded students. NIDCOM said the Air Force had assured the students that they will not be left behind.

“We will not leave without our students,” NAF was quoted as saying. In a swift turn of events, Dabiri-Erewa said the bor – ders had been opened but with stringent conditions. However, the NIDCOM chairperson did not give details on the required conditions.

“The border has just been opened (with stringent conditions) after President Buhari’s intervention with the Egyptian President. So, the processing of evacuees by the Nigerian Embassy in Egypt will begin,” DabiriErewa said. The students, alongside other nationals, had been stranded at the Egyptian border since Thursday evening.

Dabiri-Erewa said the Egyptian authorities were insisting on visas, adding that the Nigerian Mission in Egypt had been working tirelessly to rectify the issue. The first set of evacuated Nigerians is expected to arrive in the country on Friday

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