By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
At least 12 persons among them four undergraduates were killed in a boat mishap along the Ikoli River at Ayama in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa State leaving two others with fatal injuries.
The injured persons are in critical condition at an undisclosed hospital.
The tragic incident, Sunday Vanguard learnt, occurred on Christmas Day at about 8.25 pm when a passenger speedboat collided with a local cargo boat.
While the driver of the speedboat and 11 of his passengers were killed in the deadly collision, two others were said to have sustained fatal injuries and were in critical condition.
Those who lost their lives in the boat mishap include a lecturer in one of the higher institutions in the state, some students of Niger Delta University and University of Calabar.
As at press time, eight corpses had been recovered by local divers, who are still combing the bed of the river for other missing bodies.
The decomposing corpses of the accident victims, it was learnt, were, yesterday, deposited at the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.
The passengers, including men and women, mostly students, were said to be fun seekers heading for Otuabula for a beach party to celebrate Xmas.
The incident reportedly occurred when the boat had taken passengers aboard and was heading back to Onuegbum when it collided with a wooden boat around Ayama on the Ikoli River.
A source from the riverine enclave, who blamed the accident on poor visibility, lamented that “the two boats involved in the accident had no light and were sailing blindly when they collided.”
Also, a member of Bayelsa State chapter of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Lloyd Sese, who confirmed the accident, expressed sadness, saying the incident happened at night on Christmas Day.
Boat drivers, he noted, are barred from operating at night due to the windy and treacherous nature of the rivers and creeks so as to avert avoidable mishap.
Contacted, the state police public relations officer, Mr. Alex Akhigbe, confirmed the incident but said information at his disposal was sketchy.
He however promised to avail our correspondent the details of the tragic accident after being briefed by the DPO in charge of Ogbia Division.