Tragedy struck yesterday in Ekiti as four World Bank officials drowned in Egbe River in Egbe community in Gbonyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
It was gathered that the deceased officials were on a World Bank assessment mission to the river and had commenced work on Tuesday night.
They were said to have come from Development Dams and Irrigation Schemes, Kaduna State and had died when the boat in which seven of them and their equipment were sailing, capsized.
Further checks revealed that the four dead persons didn’t wear life jackets while three survivors wore life jackets. Eyewitnesses said the boat was overloaded with goods in addition to the seven passengers. The boat was said to have capsized while they were crossing to the side of the dam.
Meanwhile, the bodies of the dead were said to have been recovered by local fishermen, said to have been mobilised by the chairman of Gbonyin Local Government Area, Mrs. Folasade Akinrinmola.
Akirinmola told Newsmen in a telephone interview that she leant about the incident through the traditional ruler of the community.
She said: “We immediately mobilised a rescue team and an ambulance and those wearing life jackets were rescued. The rescued people were the ones who told us that others were in the water. Their bodies were later retrieved by the local fishermen.”
“We had written some proposals on the dam and how it could be put to use, and we believe the World Bank had started work on the river based on the calls.”
She described the incident as “unfortunate” and said their bodies had been deposited at the mortuary in Ode-Ekiti, headquarters of the council area.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ekiti State Police Command, Mr. Alberto Adeyemi, confirmed the incident, saying “they must have come from the Federal Ministry because dams are owned by the Federal Government; their boat capsized, four of them died while three survived.”
The Ekiti State government has commiserated with families of deceased.
In a release yesterday by the state’s commissioner for public utilities, Mr. Ayodeji Adesua, the government described the incident as unfortunate and laude the world bank intervention programme in assisting and providing institutional support in the water sector.
Adesua said the consultant were engaged to carry out a survey and data analysis of our Dams. In line with the developmental projects and agenda of Ekiti State Government when the unfortunate incident occurred.
Speaking further the commissioner said seven experts were involved in the accident while three of them were rescued.
The commissioner, who submitted that bodies of the fourexperts that lost their lives have been recovered, stated that investigation into the immediate and remote causes ofthe ugly incident is ongoing.