19 August 2012

Nigeria: Lagos Ocean Surge Levels Kuramo Beach

There was no rain Saturday which could have increased the water level. But nonetheless, the Atlantic Ocean surged and overflowed its banks, levelling the popular relaxation spot, Kuramo Beach, Victoria Island, Lagos.

No fewer than 16 persons were feared dead in its wake, as the surge sacked communities within the vicinity.

THISDAY gathered that five of the 16 victims were women and another one was said to be a local diver simply identified as Oloruwa.

By last night, only one corpse had been recovered.

The surge, as gathered, started on Friday night but became violent at about 7 am saturday.

THISDAY learnt that the first set of victims were 12 traders who were on a passenger boat heading to Kuramo when the ocean rebelled.

The local diver, who was also on a fishing boat, attempted to rescue the traders but unfortunately got drowned due to the powerful surge of the ocean.

Sources said the four other victims were fun-seekers at Kuramo Beach. They were said to have been swept off with their cabins.

The surge, however, did not affect the office of Eko Atlantic City, which has a big barricade.

Reports said Saturday's incident was not the first of its kind, a fact buttressed by residents who said the surge usually occurs once every year.

Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said immediately the news broke, policemen and other rescue groups were drafted to the scene.

According to her, following the incident, which started at about 7 am, the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Victoria Island, Mr. Adegoke Fayoade, sent policemen to cordon off the area so that the surge does not consume more people.

Reacting to the incident, Mr. Hakeem Bello, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the state Governor Babatunde Fashola, said the state was on top of the situation.

In a statement made available to THISDAY, Bello said following seven days of high waves accompanied by a strong ocean surge which hit the country's coastline with Lagos being among the worst hit due to its location, the state government ordered the immediate evacuation of the state's waterfront.

Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Prince Segun Oniru, said the process had started with the immediate evacuation of the Kuramo Beach to make way for movement of sand into the area. This action, the commissioner explained, had to be taken immediately to avert the disaster of the Atlantic Ocean joining the Kuramo Waters and subsequently the Lagoon.

Oniru, who explained that the state was getting the extreme of this weather condition due to its location, noted that other coastal waterfront areas badly affected from which people would be expected to move included Badagry and Ojo Waterfront areas, Bar Beach, Kuramo Beach, Goshen Estate, Maiyegun and Alpha Beach.

He, however, added that the state emergency service had already been mobilised to continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly, adding that Lagosians should remain calm.

Also speaking on the incident, the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Mr. Femi Oke-Osayintolu, said the incident occurred when residents were still sleeping.

He said those affected were mainly people occupying illegal shanties at the beach front, adding that only one body had been recovered so far.

According to him, the agency cordoned off the entire area and immediately and started evacuating residents, adding that residents should take note of the incident and vacate for their safety. A frontline environmental activist who has been harping on the need to sanitise the waterways, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, blamed the recent incident on the abandoned shipwrecks in the ocean.

Citing Alpha Beach and other beaches within the ocean area that had experienced similar crises, Majekodunmi reiterated his demand on the Federal Government to assist the state in removing the wrecks in other to checkmate any future occurrence.

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