By Ben Agande
Kaduna—”Rise from where ever you are. Rise from where ever you are…” was the cry of one of the parents of the five students of a private secondary school, Victory College, Ungwan Yelwa in Chikun Local Government Area in Kaduna State, who drowned Wednesday morning, during an excursion to River Kaduna.
It was gathered that the drowned students were part of the 73 students of the school led to the Kaduna Water Pump Station, located around the popular Kaduna Railway Station, by two members of staff of the school.
According to eyewitnesses, the students were taken to the water intake point, when a board that serves as a viewing point caved in under their weight.
Although nine students were said to have fallen into the river, four of them were rescued, while five were swept away by the fast flowing river.
The five students, who remained unaccounted for at press time, are Goodness Aromilade, Monday Umahi, Joseph Benedict and David Ukegbu, and the only female student in the group, Priscilla Romania.
There’s little hope —Emergency agency
Speaking with journalists at the scene of the incident, the Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Ezekiel Baba-Karik, said the bodies of the five students were yet to be recovered by rescuers because the agency lacked the capacity to do so.
He expressed fear that more than 20 hours after the incident, there was no likelihood that the students may still be found alive.
He said: “This unfortunate incident occurred yesterday (Wednesday) when some students came on excursion to the water-intake of the Kaduna State Water Board.
“They came on excursion and mistakenly something went wrong technically and nine students fell in the water. But as information reached us, we swung into action immediately and an hour later, we rescued four out of the nine students.
“As you can see, our men are here to see if we can recover the remaining five bodies. That is why we are here. There is nothing God cannot do, but humanly speaking, this is over 20 hours after the incident occurred.
“It is impossible to get them out alive, but our people are working on the possibility of recovering their bodies. Now, our divers are inside the river to see if we can recover them.”
The incident has sparked outrage among parents and members of the public for the negligence of the school management as well as the slow response of the state emergency management agency.