Reports reaching Daily Guide indicate that about 50 people are feared dead in a boat accident on the Volta Lake on Tuesday night.
The boat, believed to have capsized when it hit a tree stump in the middle of the journey, was said to have set off from Tapa Abotoase in the Biakoye District, through Kete-Krachi to the Sene District in the Brong Ahafo Region.
According to sources at Tapa Abotoase, about 50 people and their load were onboard the boat before it took off at about 8am on Tuesday morning. Other people joined in the course of the journey, bringing the number of passengers to about 70.
The passengers, mainly traders, were believed to be leaving Abotoase for their various destinations after a market day. The Navy Chief at Krachi-West, Chief Petty Officer Aguze, who confirmed the incident on a local radio station, disclosed that the accident occurred between Kpedzie and Tata Bator which is within the Sene District of the Brong Ahafo Region.
The Krachi-West Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation, Amidu Baba Seidu, told GBC that the boat, which made a stopover at a landing beach in Keta-Krachi, had about 70 people on board before it took off. He said the engine boat was drowned due to overloading.
He noted that the boat operator ignored advice by navy personnel about the excessive load it was carrying.
He confirmed that so far, 20 people had been rescued with the help of residents of Kedzie Island where the accident occurred.
Mr. Seidu said the rescue operation was being hampered by lack of equipment and called for all hands on deck to ensure that all the bodies were retrieved.
According to an eyewitness, Dornuvi Kudzo, the boat drowned by a stump in the lake which perforated the boat by spilling water into it and eventually drowning it. It caused pandemonium which eventually capsized the boat, drowning its occupants.
In 2004, a similar accident occurred where about 50 bodies were believed to have drowned. A few months ago, seven persons from one family and three others also drowned in the lake.
CPO Aguze stressed that navy personnel in the area were currently handicapped and could not give details of the incident because they had neither a speed, rescue nor patrol boat in the area.
As a result, they were now mobilising and liaising with their colleagues in other areas, NADMO as well as residents along the lake to help them reach the accident area to assess the real state of the problem and retrieve more bodies.
According to Kweku Larbi, who works in the area, the first two bodies (all females) which were retrieved by some Good Samaritans who happened to have travelled on that route, had been identified as Akpalu Agbavani, in her 50s and Amei Gabianu, between 45 and 50 years old.
All the eight bodies have been deposited at the Krachi Government Hospital Morgue awaiting autopsy.
A Zoil brigade man at Krachi also said that information gathered from travellers who used the route yesterday indicated that there was no sign of the boat or the passengers. “It appears almost every soul on the boat at the time of the accident did not survive,” he said.
Zoil brigade at Abotoase claimed that the boat operators and passengers gave them a hard time when they told them to stop overloading. He added that even though the life jackets were not adequate, the few given out to passengers were not used as they removed them in the course of the journey.
Source: Fred Duodu, Ho
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