…Says nothing from Nigerian government yet
By Ike Uchechukwu
CALABAR –Efforts to rescue victims of the boat mishap that occurred on Sunday evening is still ongoing as only 108 people have been rescued while seven dead bodies have been recovered so far says Colonel Kinvy Nkande of Cameroon Army Special Battalion Intervention, SBI Unit.
Vanguard learned that the vessel left the Terminal C of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) operated by Shoreline Logistics before the incident occurred on the high sea on the way to Cameroon.
Speaking with Vanguard on the telephone on Tuesday, Colonel Kinvy Nkande also confirmed that so far seven bodies have been recovered while 108 persons have been rescued and many others were still missing.
He further revealed that the search and rescue operation was still ongoing as divers and other officers from his unit were still at work in the area where the incident occurred trying to find missing persons
His words: “That the boat was overloaded with passenger and cargo and as we speak 108 persons have been rescued and seven dead bodies have been recovered so far, three were brought out yesterday while four others(corpses) were recovered today (Tuesday)
“Others people are still trapped, we are seeking for joint intervention from Nigeria’s safety authority. Because most of the passengers are Nigerians and the boat came from Nigeria. So far the rescue and search operations are being done by Cameroon authority alone.
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade, Mr Christian Ita, said “the information we had was that the thing happened in Cameroonian waters, not Nigerian waters.
“When Navy got the information, they mobilised men and went there only to discover that it happened in Cameroonian territorial waters. So there was nothing they could do about it. It is the duty of Cameroon to handle that.
“Our security agencies are liaising with their Cameroonian counterparts to ensure adequate response to the situation.”
On his part, Director-General of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Princewill Anyim told Vanguard that they were not in a position to out figures but the Nigerian Navy.
He said: “We are not in a position to give the figure but the Nigerian Navy who are in charge of the waterways. We are following the situation.”
Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, NNS Victory, Public Relations Officer, Sub.Lt A A Amai who confirmed the incident said he was aware of the incident the information he got was still sketchy.
“I don’t know the number of casualties yet, rescue operations are ongoing as we speak but the information we have is still sketchy,” he said
However, efforts to speak with officials of Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, at the dockyard proved abortive as the place has been under tight security and no stranger was allowed into their premises.