A female corps member, a pregnant woman and five other persons have died in a boat accident in Bayelsa State.
The victims reportedly died from drowning after the boat they boarded capsized on the river between Otuan and Ayama communities of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
Other casualties are a mother with her two kids and a 70-year-old Otuan chief and father of a journalist in the state, Chief Lucky Daniels.
The boat and the corpses of the victims are still missing with rescue and search efforts ongoing at Ayama community as of the time of filing this report.
It was learnt the ill-fated boat with a capacity to carry 15 passengers, rammed into a barrier while trying to berth close to Ayama community.
It was also gathered the afternoon rain storms, which made all the passengers to cover themselves with tarpaulins, leading to reduced visibility might have contributed to the disaster.
A journalist in Bayelsa, Mr. Domo Timi, whose father was one of the victims of the accident, confirmed the incident.
“My father was involved in the accident. Rescue teams have been dispatched to check the scene for possible rescue,” he said.
The Chairman, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Comrade Ipigansi Ogoniba, confirmed the death of six people in the boat mishap that happened on Saturday, along the Southern Ijaw waterways.
He said he was briefed that the accident was caused by the unfair stormy weather.
Ogoniba said the six casualties included four adults including a female youth corps member and two children out of the initial 13 people that boarded the boat.
He said the 75 Horse Power engine boat was en route to Ayama Ijaw from Otuan community, some ten-minute journey when the tragic incident occurred around 4pm on Saturday.
Ogoniba, however, blamed the deaths resulting from the accident on the non-usage of the recommended safety life jackets by the passengers in the boats.
He said it was a fault on the part of the driver of the boat, who was expected to ensure that every passenger entering the boat was provided with a life jacket before embarking on the journey.
Ogoniba warned that henceforth any boat driver who flout the union’s order of “no life jacket for passengers, no movement”, would be arrested by the police and dealt with accordingly.
A statement by the State Public Relations Officer, NYSC, Mathew Ngobua, said when the corps got the information, the State Coordinator and other officials left the Orientation Camp and went to the place.
Ngobua said: “The State Coordinator told me that the corps member’s name is on the passenger manifest and the said corps member was not at the lodge.
“However, we will make a detailed report after the search-and-rescue operation or when the body is recovered. We are in touch with the brother of the corps member who also said she told him that she was travelling.”
Spokesman for the Bayelsa State Police Command, Asinim Butswat, also confirmed the incident.
He, however, said he had not been properly briefed on the number of casualties and what led to the accident.