Tony Okafor, Awka
No fewer than 76 persons are missing in a boat mishap that occurred in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The tragedy, it was gathered, took place at the weekend in Umunnankwo community of the area
Eye witnesses said the ill-fated boat, which had about 85 persons on board, took off from Onukwu Bridge and was heading to Nkwo market, Ogbakuba before it capsized.
According to Pascal Aniegbuna, the Transition Committee Chairman, Ogbaru Local Government Area, “while some of the passenges were rescued, several others, unfortunately lost their lives.”
A source in SEMA who pleaded not to named because he was not yet authorized to speak on the development said, “An engine boat that loaded about 85 passengers at Onukwu bridge Ossomala enroute to Nkwo Ogbakuba market capsized this morning. Only 9 passengers were rescued, the rest are yet to be seen
The SEMA source added, “I wasn’t there when the boat loaded but the information we got unofficially is that it loaded 85
Speaking with journalist on Saturday, a former House of Representatives member, Hon. Victor Afam Ogene, expressed shock and deep sorrow over the development which he said claimed the lives of several people.
Ogene, who is the Labour Party 2023 House of Representatives candidate for Ogbaru Federal Constituency, said Ogbaru was devastated and in shock over the horrendous boat accident that took the precious lives of some of its sons and daughters.
He said, “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.”
Ogene had earlier made an appeal in a press statement to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to come to the rescue of the people of Ogbaru over the flood disaster in the area.
According to Ogene, in the statement, houses, farms and other businesses in Ogbaru, were swallowed by the horrendous flood, leaving many people in dire agony, sorrow, tears and hopelessness.
He named 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, “It is pathetic. It is a terrible sight in Ogbaru as a result of the flood disaster. The human and environmental conditions here are absolutely pathetic and requires urgent action from government in order to alleviate the sufferings of the despondent victims, most of whom have lost all their belongings to the flood disaster.
“These flood victims that cut across several communities, urgently need relief materials and other assistance from government and it’s agencies, such as NEMA and SEMA. I therefore call on these agencies to rise up to its responsibility and bring urgent succour to the people of Ogbaru, who are currently besieged by flooding, so as to avert the outbreak of health challenges associated with such incident.
“Most of them urgently need food, clothing materials, beddings, medical supplies and shelter.
“I also call on the Anambra State Government, to liaise with the Transition Committee Chairman, Hon. Paschal Aniegbuna and President Generals of Ogbaru communities, to coordinate relief efforts to ensure that there are prudently and transparently distributed in the best interest of the victims.
“Please, NEMA, SEMA and state government, should consider this as a serious and desperate SOS message and treat it with the urgency, humaneness and responsibility that it requires.”