At least 21 feared dead as overloaded boat capsizes in River Benue

At least 21 people are feared dead after a boat capsized in River Benue on Sunday, July 5, 2020.

According to reports, the boat was conveying mainly members of the ECAN Church Ijaha in Makurdi Local Government Area to a meeting across the river when it sank at Kwaghtan Sule in Guma LGA.

The canoe which had a capacity to carry not more than 15 passengers was said to have been overloaded.

Only two people were said have been rescued alive from the boat which sank midstream, and local fishermen and policemen are still searching for other passengers.

A statement by the State Police Command signed by the Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene indicated that 21 people were missing in the mishap that occurred at about 2:30pm.

The statement read in part: "We received information at about 2:30pm Sunday that 23 members of ECAN Church Ijaha, Makurdi Local Government boarded a Boat to attend a conference across River Benue, at the midstream, the boat sank. Marine Police search party were deployed to the scene where two  persons were rescued alive while  21 persons are still missing."

Reacting to the incident, the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom described it as painful and unfortunate.

He particularly condoled with ECAN Church which lost it members in the mishap.

Ortom said marine police personnel were immediately deployed to the area, assisted by local divers in rescuing the victims.

The Governor urged members of Kwaghter community, where the incident took place, to cooperate with the rescue team to enable them to find the missing persons.

He reminded Benue people about this year’s weather predictions on torrential rains and advised that those who travel by water should employ all safety measures to avoid unforeseen incidents.

Governor Ortom enjoined Benue residents to always observe COVID-19 prevention measures by staying away from crowded places to curb the spread of the disease.

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