Bayelsa: Pregnant woman, corps member, five others missing as boat capsizes

A pregnant woman, one female National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, a 70-year -old chief, have been confirmed among the passengers lost their lives in a boat mishap on Saturday between Otuan and Ayama communities of Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.

Also among the victims is a mother with her two kids.

The 70-year-old, Chief Lucky Daniels, is from Otuan community and also a father to a journalist in the state.

The boat and the corpses of the victims are still missing at the time of this report with rescue and search efforts ongoing at Ayama Community.

It was gathered that the boat, with a capacity to carry 15 passengers, rammed into a barrier while trying to berth close to Ayama community. It was also gathered that the afternoon rain storm, which made all the passengers cover themselves with Tarpaulin and reduced visibility may have contributed to the disaster.

Domo Timi, a journalist, whose father was one of the victims of the accident, said on the telephone that “my father was involved and rescue teams have been dispatched to check the scene for possible rescue”.

He however expressed confidence in more survivors due to the fact that most passengers were putting on life jackets.

The elected Chairman of the Maritime Union in Otuan Community, Joseph Shedrack told DAILY POST, that the boat driver, Lucky Christopher, who survived the accident, has 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”.

He said preliminary investigations showed that the weather was bad and rain storm 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 has called me.”

The State Chairman of the Maritime Union, Ipigansi Ogoniba, however, told DAILY POST, that six persons have been confirmed missing and dead.

”Six persons died. When the boat got to Ayama, it had a mishap. One corpse was recovered and handed to the family for proper burial. While three adults and three children were still missing or probably dead,” he said.

On the identity of the corps member involved in the boat disaster, Comrade Ogoniba said the authorities of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have been contacted through the Community Liaison Officer (CLO),” they are still searching for her corpse and we have reached out to the NYSC for her identity.”

The spokesman of the Bayelsa State Police Command, Asinim Buatswat, also confirmed the incident but said he is yet to be properly briefed on the number of casualties and what led to the accident.

When contacted, the State Public Relations Officer of the NYSC, Mathew Ngobua, said “We got the information and the State Coordinator and other staff left the Orientation and went to the place”

“The State Coordinator told me that the corps member’s name is said to be on the passenger manifest and the said corps member is not at the lodge”

“However, we will make a detailed report after the search and rescue or when the body is recovered.

The NYSC will make an official brief when the body is sighted and properly identified.”

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