Ogbaru: Tragedy as 76 die in boat mishap escaping Anambra flood

Lagos Boat Regatta

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has said that 76 have been unaccounted for since a boat carrying 85 passengers from Onukwu to Nkwo Ogbakuba capsized on Friday morning.

NEMA south-east coordinator Thickman Tanimu told NAN on Saturday in Awka that 85 persons had boarded a boat in an attempt to escape the rising water level but the boat capsized.

Tanimu said nine persons were found while the others are believed to have died.

According to the NEMA coordinator, people refused to relocate in spite of the sensitisation and warnings because they thought the current flooding situation was the usual flood water that would eventually recede.

He added, “The report we are receiving is that as at yesterday (Friday), the flood level rose above the 2012 flood level by 11 per cent. What I suspected happened yesterday at Ogbaru, Anambra State, 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 is 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 of yesterday (Friday), we recorded 79 deaths due to the rising flood; 76 in Anambra and three in Enugu.”

Tanimu said the agency was in talks with the military in Onitsha and Abuja to activate the Disaster Response Unit to airlift trapped residents in the affected communities.

“This will involve the Air force and the Navy so that we can get an aerial view of the affected areas to see people who are trapped and airlift them,” he added. “With the rising flood, airlifting is the only solution right now. Any boat that goes in there is likely to capsize because the flood has covered houses to roof level.

“The 82 Division of the military is 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.