Seven persons among 20 passengers onboard a boat they were travelling on got drowned after the boat capsized on the Volta Lake following a heavy storm that hit it midway through the journey.
The boat was travelling from Tongor-Dzemeni in the South Dayi District of the Volta Region to Havorkope Island in the Kwahu Afram Plains North District of the Eastern Region.
Bodies of the deceased – Aku Dzetror, 65, Aku Adanyo, 55, Mary Magic, 39, Faulting Kpeli, 32, Esther Akorli, 31, Evelyn Akpaglo, 31, and Edward Gati, 31 – have been retrieved and deposited at a private mortuary on the Island.
The Eastern Regional Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ebenezer Tetteh, told the media that the remaining 13 passengers were rescued, however, the boat operator had not been found and was feared to have drowned too.
“A team of fishermen and rescuers are searching for the boat operator,” DSP Tetteh said, adding that further development about the situation would be communicated.
Meanwhile some residents of Tongor-Gyemeni say about 30 people on board a boat are feared dead after it capsized.
Mr John Kofi Abbery, an elder at Tongor-Dzemeni, who visited the scene immediately after the incident, said close to 30 bodies were retrieved from the river at the time of his visit and that most of the victims were women and some students travelling to their parents for the Easter break.
“If you are not a man you can’t look at the bodies, they are many. This is painful,” he said.
Miss Golo Doh Benedicta, a 16-year-old survivor, who spoke to the media via phone from Havorkope, said the incident occurred at about 1600 to 1700 hours on Thursday, April 14.
She said the outboard motor of the boat went off and water began to enter when the storm hit.
“Some of us were shouting, others were crying, wailing and calling for help from God because we saw the boat was sinking,” she said, describing the incident as horrific.
She said she jumped onto one of the boards of the boat and was floating on the surface of the water before another boat came to her rescue and some other passengers.
The boat was carrying fertilizers and drinks among other goods, she said, adding; “I survived by grace, I really saw my death, I couldn’t do anything. I was afraid and crying but I thank God for saving my life.”
Mr Mawuta Kpetigo, a teacher at Havorkope, who also confirmed the incident, said search operations were ongoing to retrieve the rest of the bodies.
“My elder sister is also among the victims, but her body hasn’t been found yet, so we are still looking for her and other bodies,” he said.
More than 500 members of the community were gathered at the shore while the search continued and the mood was sorrowful, Mr Kpetigo said.