Six more bodies, including that of a six-year-old girl, have been recovered at Kuramo Beach in Lagos, swelling the casualty from the deadly Saturday morning ocean surge to 10.
Recovered around 1.30pm on Monday by a rescue team made up of divers and officials of the Lagos State Environmental Health Management Unit (SEHMU), the bodies were said to be bloated.
Search parties are however still looking for more bodies at what used be Kuramo Beach, but now completely wiped out by a government demolition team.
Victims were mainly petty traders by the waterfront who resided in the makeshift houses located within the Kuramo area.
The development not only spoilt the day for fun seekers and tourists, who had planned to take advantage of the recent Sallah celebrations to hang out at the Beach, but residents have been sacked after the entire area was cordoned off and manned by security personnel, with all the shanties demolished and set ablaze by government officials.
Narrating how the surge came about, a resident in one of the shanties, who gave her name as Tope, had informed newsmen that the surge occurred at the early hours of the day.
“The ocean surge happened very early in the morning when so many people were yet to wake up. We are still looking for some people now as we speak. We just pray that they were not washed away by the surge,” she had fervently wished.
Unfortunately, that was exactly what had happened because as the days went by, more bodies were recovered by rescuers.
For instance, as of Monday, six more bodies had been reportedly recovered, including that of a six-year old girl, bringing the number to 10. However, rescuers, including local divers, were yet to recover the bodies of the remaining six victims, earlier declared missing. On Tuesday, however, very few government officials were seen around the area, even as the people continued to bemoan the mishap.
The ocean surge had swooped on the inhabitants of the shanties while most of them were still indoors, resulting in total confusion along the coastlines, as many of them were caught unawares.
Government on Saturday ordered the immediate evacuation of the residents to forestall possible disaster from the anticipated seven days of high waves accompanied by a strong Ocean surge, predicted by experts, which impact has started hitting parts of the country’s coastline with Lagos expected to be the most vulnerable due to its location.
Many residents blamed the incident on government, attributing the surge to the multi-million-dollar Eko Atlantic City project, where it was said to have recovered about nine kilometres of lost land from the ocean, with an intention to build a world-class mixed use scheme that is expected to house about 250,000 residents.
General Manager of the State Emergency Management Agency, (LASEMA), Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, had said after the incident that a total of 15 bodies were washed away, based on the information received at the scene.
He had urged the affected residents to seek alternative accommodation in order to save their lives from attack in the future adding that the recovered bodies were deposited at the Isolo General Hospital Morgue.
The State Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Prince Segun Oniru, said the evacuation was to pave way for the movement of sand into the area.
He explained that the action was taken immediately to avert the disaster of the Atlantic Ocean, joining the Kuramo Waters and subsequently the Lagoon.
According to him, Lagos state has been getting extreme weather conditions due to its location, and that areas badly affected from which people would be expected to move away included, Badagry and Ojo Waterfront areas, Bar Beach, Kuramo Beach, Goshen Estate, Maiyegun as well as Alpha Beach.
Oniru assured that the state emergency services had already been mobilised to continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly to prevent more disaster.
He urged Lagosians to remain calm as the government was doing everything possible to protect more loss of lives and property to the surge.
On the Eko Atlantic City Project, Oniru had on several occasions said that it was not a project unique to only Lagos alone and would not have any environmental impact on the area as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had been duly conducted and certified okay.
He blamed the disaster on the neglect by the Federal government, saying the problem would have been solved a long time ago if the apex government had redeemed its promises to assist Lagos State Government to solve the ocean problem.
In 2011, after a similar tide had hit the Kuramo Beach, Oniru had said: “When President Goodluck Jonathan visited this area after the July 10, 2011 flood, we were happy that soon, there will be solution to this environmental threat but unfortunately nothing has happened since then.”