Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Religious Affairs and Civil Society Rev. J. Aernyi described the River Buruku tragedy as unfortunate.
Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
No fewer than 40 people, including mourners and market women, were feared dead after boat conveying them suddenly disappeared on River Katsina-Ala, at Abuku/Buruku Harbour, in Benue State, yesterday.
The tragedy reportedly happened on Wednesday, at about 7:00 p.m.
Daily Sun gathered that the missing persons from Gonduzua Village, in Logo Local Government Area of the state, were on their way to a wake keep and burial; in Buruku, a neighbouring local government area. The boat was also said to be conveying market women, who had closed from Ugba Market, in the same local government area.
Also on board were unconfirmed number of motorcyclists, even as locals said no single body has been recovered from the river at the time this report was filed last night.
In 2012, 17 persons died during when a boat conveying them capsized while the victims were returning from a picnic in the area.
Meanwhile, Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Religious Affairs and Civil Society Rev. J. Aernyi described the River Buruku tragedy as unfortunate.
Rev. Aernyi confirmed the incident in his office in Makurdi, the state capital, yesterday, after a telephone call to the People’s Democratic Party Youth Leader, who also doubles as the Secretary, Buruku River Workers’ Union, Mr. Samuel Nakombo who confirmed the report to him.
Aernyi said Nakombo told him on telephone that a boat conveying many passengers who were attending a burial and some Bajaj motorcycles had capsized.
The special adviser noted with dismay, the continuous loss of lives and property at River Buruku and stressed that it is time adequate measures are taken to forestall future occurrence.
Aernyi appealed to the Federal Government, to, as a matter of urgency, construct a solid bridge at River Buruku.
When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Moses Yamu, confirmed the report but insisted that only 13 persons and 18 motorcycles were lost.
“13 persons and 18 motorcycles were lost in a boat mishap while crossing River Buruku, from Abuku, heading to Buruku town on Wednesday, at about 2030 hrs.
“Three corpses have so far been recovered and deposited at the hospital. Meanwhile, CP Ene Okon has ordered immediate investigation into the cause of the unfortunate incident,” Yamu added.
In a related development, Governor Samuel Ortom has commiserated with families of victims of the boat tragedy.
Represented by Secretary to the State Government, Professor Anthony Ijohor, (SAN), the governor described the boat mishap as unfortunate and painful, and also, stressed that a similar incident, which claimed 17 lives, occurred at the same point five years ago.
The governor also directed that the bodies, which had so far been recovered, be deposited at the morgue of the General Hospital, Buruku, and assured that the state government would assist in the burial.
Mue Ter Ichongu, Chief Terngu Iorhuna from Logo, who spoke on behalf of the affected communities, thanked Ortom for his prompt response, and added that the people of the area were consoled by the visit.
Chairman of Benue Motorcycle Association, Ugonduzua branch which lost 17 members in the incident, Mr. Felix Ikyaajime, reiterated to newsmen that the victims were heading for a burial in Buruku when the boat capsized.
On his part, he said three corpses and 18 motorcycles were recovered by the rescue team while the search for others missing in the boat mishap was still ongoing.