Paul Omokuvie, Bauchi
At least 18 dead bodies have been recovered from the boat mishap that claimed 38 lives in River Kirfi, Bauchi State on Tuesday.
Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Alhaji Bappa Abdu Bara disclosed this in an interview with Daily Sun at his Kirfi office Wednesday evening.
Bara said that the search and rescue team was still combing the river for recover more missing people – dead or alive.
He disclosed that 12 passengers survived the boat mishap, while 18 have been confirmed dead.
While the corpses of 15 passengers of have been identified, three others recovered from the river remain unknown, he said.
Bara described the incident as sad and unfortunate and the first of its kind in Kirfi.
He said that the council has acquired 10 new engine-powered boats to ameliorate the suffering of passengers waiting to be ferried across the river.
The list of deceased obtained from the council by Daily Sun show that an Alkaleri-based veterinary doctor was among the dead.
The youngest among the deceased were two 17-year-old shepherds who were going to attend to their fathers’ cattle, while the oldest was 58-year-old cattle breeder.
Daily Sun investigations revealed that most of those who drowned were Fulani cattle breeders who were ferrying to the other side of the river where their cattle were grazing.
Also among those who boarded the ill-fated canoe were farmers.
Most of the occupants of the ill-fated boat were from Badara, Kesu, Butta, Wuro Cedi, Meigeri and Babaladi communities in Kirfi local government area.
Giving an account of the accident, a farmer and survivor from Bara, Abdullahi Tsando Bada, explained that the boat had taken off from Kesu waterside, but became stuck in the middle of the river when the paddle broke.
Tsando explained that passengers began to panic after the boat remained motionless atop the water for awhile, with the man peddling the boat trying to calm them.
“One man suddenly dived into the water and that caused confusion as some passengers moved to one side of the canoe and water began to enter it,” Tsando said.
The farmer said the boat began to sink as passenger began shouting. “I jumped inside the water because I can swim but one passenger held me tightly and I had to bite him to free myself otherwise I would have died,” Tsando, a father of 10 said.
Another survivor, Musa Isa, from Butta, attributed the accident to overloading.
“I was warning them that the passengers were too many for the canoe but they would not listen,” lamented Isa, who lost his younger brother, Hassan, in the boat mishap.