An expectant mother and a female member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) were among six boat passengers who drowned in Bayelsa as their boat capsized.
They were said to have drowned on Saturday due to an incident between Otuan and Ayama in the state’s Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
It was gathered that the boat which had 15 passengers on board, rammed into a barrier in the waters and sank while approaching Ayama to berth, amidst a heavy rainstorm.
The passengers were covered with a tarpaulin to protect them from the rainstorm when the accident happened, according to the reports.
The body of the casualties and the boats were still missing even as a search team had been deployed in the area as of the time of this report.
Joseph Shadrach, the unit chairman of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria at Otuan community said the boat driver, Christopher Lucky, had been detained by the police in Ayama for allegedly driving under poor visibility.
He claimed that preliminary investigation showed that the weather was bad due to the rainstorm, which had started before the boat moved.
“I was the chairman of the union but some persons who claimed to know more than themselves have been taking charge of the Otuan unit.
“If I had been around, I would not have allowed the loading of the boat due to poor visibility and bad weather. I was told a corps member, two children, and a woman died,” he said.
Confirming the boat accident, the state chairman of MWUN, Ipigansi Ogoniba, said that six passengers had been confirmed dead.
He said, “Six persons died. When the boat got to Ayama, it had a mishap. One corpse was recovered and handed to the family for proper burial. While three adults and three children were still missing or probably dead.”
Ogoniba said the state NYSC authorities had been contacted through the community liaison officer on the identity of the deceased female corps member, adding that “they are still searching for her corpse and we have reached out to the NYSC for her identity.
The spokesman for the State Police Command, Asinim Butswat, said that a search team comprising the marine police, MWUN and divers was combing the waters to recover the bodies of the victims.
He also confirmed that the boat driver had been detained for questioning over the circumstances that caused the accident.