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76 Feared Dead In Anambra Boat Mishap

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Scores of travelers were yesterday feared dead in a boat mishap that occurred in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.

African Examiner gathered that the ill-fated boat with about 85 persons on board capsized on Friday at Umunnankwo community.

Eye witnesses said the boat, which took off from Onukwu bridge, was heading to Nkwo Market, Ogbakuba before it capsized.

Six victims were reportedly rescued while 76 others were feared to have died in the incident. But the state police command could not confirm the number of casualties. The spokesperson, Ikenga Tochukwu, stated that he had no such report before him, adding that the State Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng, had deployed Police Marine operatives to the area following the flood related incident.

Following the severity of flooding in the area, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), says airlifting is the only solution to the rising flood in the embattled local government.

Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, South-East, Mr Thickman Tanimu, reportedly said that any boat that goes in there is likely to capsize because the flood had covered houses to roof level.

“The report we are receiving is that as at yesterday (Friday), the flood level rose above the 2012 flood level by 11 per cent.

“People were thinking that it is the normal flood water that will eventually recede, which is why they refused to leave their homes.

“What I suspected happened yesterday at Ogbaru, Anambra, going by the report we received from the State Emergency Management Agency, is that the water kept rising and the people were trapped.

“They decided to escape the rising water and 85 of them jam-packed inside the boat which capsized due to the rising flood.

“It very unfortunate because the flood has covered many houses up to roof level.

“Out of the 85 persons, nine were found and the remaining 76 are nowhere to be found.

“Also at Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area in Enugu, two men and a pregnant woman died in the flood.

“It is sad to note that as at yesterday, we recorded 79 deaths due to the rising flood; 76 in Anambra and three in Enugu,” he said.

Tanimu said that the agency was in talks with the Military in Onitsha and Abuja to activate the Disaster Response Unit (DRU), to airlift trapped residents in the affected communities.

“This will involve the Air force and the Navy, so that we can get an area view of the affected areas, see people who are trapped and airlift them.

“The 82 Division of the military are preparing and once they get the go ahead from Abuja, we will begin to airlift those who want to leave because our people are very conservative and they might refuse to leave,” he said.

The coordinator urged residents in flood-risk areas to relocate, saying as the flood level had risen above the 2012 flood level by 11 per cent.

Tanimu lamented that people refused to relocate in-spite of the intensive sensitisation and warnings because they thought the current flooding situation was the normal kind of flood water that would eventually recede.

Reacting, a former House of Representatives member, Hon. Victor Afam Ogene expressed shock and deep sorrow over the incident, describing it as unfortunate.
He said, “Ogbaru is devastated and in shock over the horrendous boat accident that took the precious lives of some of its sons and daughters.

“This sad news of this terrible accident is numbing and painful to me as a person and must be very devastating, especially to the immediate families of the victims. This is a collective loss for Ogbaru as a whole and we are united in sorrow.

“My condolences go to the affected families and also Ogbahu people and communities, who have in recent times found themselves in the jaws of severe flood disaster that has practically submerged all our communities and displaced thousands of people.”

According to Ogene, houses, farms and other businesses in Ogbaru have been swallowed by the horrendous flood, leaving many people in dire agony, sorrow, tears and hopelessness.

He listed some of the affected communities as Ogwu Ikpele, Akili Ogidi, Obeagwe, Ossomala, Ogwuaniocha, Umunankwo, Ogbakuba, Ochuche, Umuzu, Akili Ozizor, Atani, Ohita and Odekpe.

“Other areas devastated by the ravaging flood include Amiyi, Iyiowa, Ogbeukwu, Okoti and parts of Okpoko,” he added.

Meanwhile, Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, was said to have bitterly wept over the incident.
He condoled with the families of persons involved in the boat mishap.

Soludo’s condolence message to the families of the victims, was signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Christian Aburime, while describing the accident as a shock.

He said, “This development is still a shock to the government and good people of Anambra State. I sympathise with the families of people involved.”

He assured that government would continue to do its best to reduce the negative effects of the flood disaster in the state.

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