Fourteen people, including three brothers, were confirmed dead when a boat capsized in Festac Town area of Lagos State, yesterday.
The boat was conveying about 26 people from 4th Avenue across the canal to the 6th Avenue Festac Town when the boat capsized mid-way at about 9pm yesterday. Seven people were said to have been rescued while five others are still missing by the time of filing this report.
One of the three brothers, Timothy, a Junior Secondary School 1 (JSS 1) student of Festac School was said to have accompanied his two younger brothers who were in primary school, identified as Joshua and Paul, home when the accident occurred. The children were said to have been brought out dead.
Another man, Chijioke Okonkwo, 27, who hailed from Mbaise area of Imo State was also removed from the canal dead.
His friend, Stanley told LEADERSHIP that Okonkwo was his roommate at the 6th Avenue, near Early Life School. He said his friend, who was an electrician, shared breakfast earlier that morning.
Stanley said that all efforts to reach his relations on phone were futile as he had lost their contact.
LEADERSHIP investigation revealed that the accident occurred around 8:30pm.
An eye witness, Joseph, said he would have boarded the boat to the 6th Avenue but he arrived few seconds after it had taken off. He claimed that he and others rescued seven of the victims.
He said policemen led by the Area 'E' FESTAC commander and the divisional police officer of Festac Police Station, ACP Dan Okoro, and CSP Shehu Alao led policemen to the scene to assist in the rescue operation.
Joseph said rescue operation went on up until yesterday afternoon when security operatives sealed off the gate to the canal.
An official of the neighbourhood watch, Ayoola Francis, who was among those left at the scene, explained that five people were still missing and that one person was rescued yesterday morning.
He also revealed that a woman who was brought out of the canal disclosed that she had complained to the paddler about the overloading of the boat but he would not listen, and that when the paddler tried to swim to safety, another of the victims grabbed his cloth and two of them drowned.
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP gathered that the bodies of the deceased were taken away to the mortuary by the State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit, SEHMU, after their bodies were removed from the water by the combined team of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) and other rescue agencies.
Survivors were identified as Samuel Ochima, Joseph Essien, Mane Temisan, Etukufor Geoffrey and Daniel Peter.
According to LASEMA general, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, a woman who was initially rescued by LASEMA died while being taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in a Lagos Ambulance Service.
The LASEMA boss lamented that the passengers were not putting on life jackets at the time the tragedy occurred, an act he said was dangerous.
Henceforth, he said, any boat caught operating in the area would be arrested and its owners prosecuted.