About 21 persons were feared dead when a boat in which they were travelling capsized on the River Benue on Sunday.
It was gathered from eyewitnesses that the boat had on board 28 passengers, who were travelling for an annual convention of their Christian denomination, when the accident happened.
One of the eyewitnesses said, “The victims were all Christian faithful, who were going for their annual convention, when the boat in which they were travelling capsized.
“Immediately we heard about the incident, we put a call through to the police, who went in search of the victims.”
The Benue State Police Command confirmed the incident but said two persons were rescued.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Catherine Anene, said in a statement that 23 persons were involved in the accident.
The statement read in part, “On July 5, 2020, around 2.30pm, information was received that 23 members of the ECAN Church, Ijaha, Makurdi Local Government Area, boarded a boat to attend a conference across the River Benue.
“Midstream, the boat capsized. The Marine Police search party was deployed in the scene, where two persons were rescued, while 21 persons are still missing.”
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, on Sunday said the corpses of seven persons were recovered at the end of the search and rescue operations for the victims of Friday’s boat accident in the state.
The boat conveying 19 passengers and two crew members took off from Ebute-Ero and was heading for Ikorodu when it capsized around 8pm. Ten persons were said to have been rescued alive.
Oke-Osanyitolu had stated on Saturday that four more bodies were recovered, adding that one more passenger was still missing.
In a follow-up reaction on Sunday, he said the search and rescue operations had been concluded, adding that all the corpses recovered were females.
He said, “The initial information was that a boat capsized around 8pm on Friday, July 3, 2020, having departed Ebute-Ero and was en route Ikorodu in violation of the night-time travel restriction. Search and rescue operations by LASEMA alongside the LASWA dive team commenced under extremely challenging nightfall conditions and were concluded on Sunday, July 5, 2020.
“The final tally revealed a total of 19 passengers and two crew members were on board the capsized vessel. A total of 14 persons (inclusive of the crew) were rescued alive, while seven females were recovered, having lost their lives.
“Members of the public are reminded to abide by the safety regulations of the state, including appropriate usage of life jackets and restriction on timing and plying of the waterways.”