The Chairman, Ogbaru Flood Committee in Anambra State, Mr Ogochukwu Nwasike, has cried out for help as over 20 persons were still in a boat mishap that occurred at Umunankwo in Ogbaru Council Area of the state.
About 85 passengers were in the boat ferrying from Onukwu Bridge to Nkwo Ogbakuba Market when it capsized on Friday morning.
Nwasike said since the incident that no government agency had visited the scene to help recover the bodies of the over 20 missing passengers.
“Therefore, I am calling on relevant authorities to come to Umunankwo village to help them recover the bodies of the missing persons
“Some of them maybe alive but delay may put their lives in danger,” he said.
He said that the flood had submerged the road leading to the village, making it impossible for some rescuers to visit the scene.
Confirming the incident also, Mr Pascal Aniegbunam, Transition Committee Chairman of Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra, said that about 30 passengers lost their lives in the accident.
Aniegbunam said on Saturday, October 8, 2022, that, so far, 30 persons were rescued, 20 corpses recovered, while search team are still looking for more bodies.
According to him, there is serious fears that the victims being looked for are still alive due to the high-water level in the Niger River at the moment.
The chairman said that, so far, about 20 persons are still missing since there were conflicting information on the number of passengers.
Aniegbunam said that Ogbaru people were devastated and in shock over the unfortunate accident.
“The accident is painful and devastating, especially to the immediate families of the victims, the council and Anambra State.
“My condolences go to the affected families, Ogbaru communities and all the areas affected by flood disaster that has practically submerged and displaced thousands of people,” he said.
He noted that houses, farms and other businesses in Ogbaru have been submerged by flood, leaving many people in tears and hopelessness.
According to him, some of the affected communities are: Ogwu Ikpele, Akili Ogidi, Obeagwe, Ossomala, Ogwuaniocha, Umunankwo, Ogbakuba, Ochuche, Umuzu, Akili Ozizor, Atani, Ohita and Odekpe.
Others affected by the ravaging flood are: Amiyi, Iyiowa, Ogbeukwu, Okoti and parts of Okpoko community.
When contacted, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Anambra Command said he was not aware of the accident.
Ikenga said rather, the command had been receiving reports of flooding in Ogbaru and had activated its marine department to help provide necessary support in the area as may be needed.
Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), urged residents in flood-risk areas to relocate, saying that as of Friday, the flood level rose above the 2012 flood level by 11 per cent.
Mr Thickman Tanimu, Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, South-East, said on Saturday in Awka that it would be difficult to access the area due to the high level of water.
Tanimu lamented that people refused to relocate despite sensitisation and warnings because they thought the current flooding situation was the normal kind of flood water that would eventually recede.
“The report we are receiving is that as at yesterday (Friday), the flood level rose above the 2012 flood level by 11per cent.
“What I suspected happened yesterday at Ogbaru, Anambra, 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 at yesterday, we recorded 79 deaths due to the rising flood; 76 in Anambra and three in Enugu,” he said.
Tanimu said that the agency was in talks with the Military in Onitsha and Abuja to activate the Disaster Response Unit (DRU), to airlift trapped residents in the affected communities.
“This will involve the Air force and the Navy, so that we can get an area view of the affected areas, see people who are trapped and airlift them.
“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 are 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.
By Francis Onyeukwu and Lucy Osuizuigbo-Okechukwu