A female Corps member and a pregnant woman have been confirmed among the passengers that died from drowning after a boat mishap on Saturday between Otuan and Ayama communities of Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State.
Also, among the victims were a mother with her two kids and a 70-year-old Otuan Chief and father to a journalist in the State, Chief Lucky Daniels.
The boat and the corpses of the victims were still missing as at the time of this report with rescue and search efforts ongoing at Ayama community.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the ship with a capacity to carry 15 passengers, rammed into a barrier while trying to berth close to Ayama community. It was further gathered that the afternoon rainstorm, which made all the passengers covered themselves with Tarpaulin and reduced visibility, may have contributed to the disaster.
Mr. Domo Timi, a journalist, whose father was one of the victims of the accident, told LEADERSHIP on telephone that, “my father was involved and rescue teams have been dispatched to check the scene for possible rescue.”
He, however, expressed confidence of more survivors due to the fact that most passengers were putting on life jackets.
Also, the elected chairman of the Maritime Union in Otuan community, Joseph Shedrack told LEADERSHIP that the boat driver, Lucky Christopher, who survived the accident, have been detained by the Police Unit in Ayama over alleged reckless driving.
“I was chairman of the Union but some persons who claimed to know more than themselves have been taking charge of the Otuan Unit. If I had been around, I would not have allowed the loading of the boat due to poor visibility and bad weather,” Shedrak said.
He added that preliminary investigations showed that the weather was bad and rainstorm started but “those claiming to be acting allowed such trip. I was told a Corps member, two children and a woman died. Even the Special Adviser on Security to the Governor have called me.”
The spokesman of the Bayelsa State Police Command, Asinim Buatswat, also confirmed the incident but said he was yet to be properly briefed on the number of casualties and what led to the accident.