By Chiemelie Ezeobi
A privately owned-passenger boat used to ferry members of a yet-to-be identified church across the Ilashe lagoon in Lagos, Sundaycapsized, leaving nine dead and scores missing.
Although the accurate figure of passengers onboard was yet to be identified, THISDAY gathered that the high casualty figure was because none of the occupants wore the stipulated life jackets for safety.
Given the secluded nature of the area, local divers were the first emergency responders that stormed the scene before other primary governmental responders arrived.
With the help of those local volunteers, the emergency workers commenced search and rescue efforts and nine bodies were as at press time recovered while the search for others continues.
At the scene are operatives of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Marine Police Division, with full compliments of personnel from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Confirming the incident, the South-West Zonal Spokesperson of NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, said most of the deceased persons were children.
He said, “NEMA has just been alerted of a boat capsizing with nine dead bodies of victims recovered while some others
are still missing.
“The boat is said to be a private boat conveying church congregation from one side of Ilase village to the other side beach.
“As at now, the number onboard the passenger boat is unknown but there is no indication that anyone had lifejackets on when the incident happened.
“When the incident happened local volunteers swooped into search and rescue efforts and NIWA and the Marine Police were alerted by NEMA for prompt action immediately.
“Unconfirmed reports indicate that many children are involved. However, the marine police will investigate the cause of the incident after our search and rescue operations.”