By MSUE AZA, Kaduna
The Victory College,in Ungwan Yelwa, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State where five students who were drowned in boat mishaps on excursion shut down penultimate Thursday.
Parents who besieged the river Kaduna were in tears as one called his only son to rise and come out wherever he was.
It was gathered that one dead body was however recovered by rescuers.
Reports say there students drowned in River Kaduna while on excursion.
LEADERSHIP obtained the names of five drowned students as Goodness Aromilade, Monday Umahi, Joseph Benedict and David Ukegbu, Priscilla Romania (female). They were aged between 14 and 16.
The Victory College embarked on an excursion to the Kaduna Water pump station located around the popular Kaduna Railway Station by the River Kaduna bank.
It was gathered that tragedy struck when the students led by two members of staff of the college and officials of the water board to the river bank when their boat capsized in the river.
A source said: “The students were in a static boat when it sunk. Nine(9) of the students fell into the river. They have been going there on excursion. That was not their first excursion to the Kaduna,” a source said.
According to the Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Ezekiel Baba-Karik, four out of the nine students were rescued while the rest five were feared drowned.
Baba-Karik while speaking with journalists at the scene of the incident said the bodies of the five students were yet to be recovered by rescuers as at the time of filing this report because the agency lacked the capacity to do so.
He said the agency lacked some basic technical equipment to carry out any rescue operation, adding that more than 20 hours after the incident occurred, the students might have died.
He noted that immediately the agency was alerted over the incidence, officials of the agency promptly swung into action and rescued four out of the nine students alive.
He said: “This unfortunate incident occurred yesterday(Wednesday) when some students from a particular school came on excursion to the water-in take of the Kaduna State Water Board. They came on excursion and mistakingly something went wrong technically and nine(9) students were drowned. But as information reached us, we swung into action immediately and an hour later, we rescued four(4) out of the nine students”
” As you can see, our men are here to see if we can recover the remaining five bodies. That is why we are here.”
Speaking further on the possibility of rescuing the remaining students alive, the Executive Secretary added: “There is nothing God cannot do but humanly speaking, this is over 20 hours now when the incident occurred. Humanly, it is impossible to get them out alive but our people are working on the possibility of recovering their bodies. Now, our divers are inside the river to see if we can recover them.
On why the delay on rescue operation, he declared: ” We have some of our tools(equipments) that are not complete but truly speaking, even when we came here yesterday, we are not having the full equipment to do the work. But we have engaged local divers with our men for the operations. Fire Service men are now fully equipped , so, they would go into the river any moment from now. If wishes were horses, we would have saved the children yesterday. I feel their pains too.”
The SEMA boss while commiserating with the victims families, noted that the agency can do the best they could to recover the bodies of the remaining students
“Let me use this medium to commiserate with the the victims’ families over this unfortunate situation. We can do the best we could to recovered these bodies,” he said
Although, some of the parents refused to either be consoled or interviewed by journalists at the scene of the incident on Thursday.
A mother of one of the victims, who refused to be named, cried out saying, calling on the son to “rise from wherever you are.”
She cried on to God on why her only child could leave her alone.
Another parent blatantly refused to talk to our correspondent and warned him to steer clear.
One of the victims who was rescued after the incident, claimed that the guide never told them the crane that controls the boat was not able to support heavy weight and that may have resulted to the breaking of the connecting metals holding the frames to it.
He said that he escaped narrowly by clinging unto one of the iron supports after the capsize.
“I then managed to come out be swimming. My friends were also trying to come out but the pressure of the water was much, so they could not,” he added.
When LEADERSHIP visited the Victory school, no single student was spotted as the school was under lock and key.