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11.05.2005 General News

Boat Capsizes, Killing Many

By Graphic

May 11, Graphic -- A BOAT believed to be carrying about 60 passengers capsized on the Volta Lake at Yeji in the Brong Ahafo Region last Sunday, and claimed an unspecified number of lives.

Sources close to the accident scene said eight bodies had so far been retrieved, and these included those of a pregnant woman, her husband and two of their children.

The number of boat disasters on the lake that claim lives continue to rise as measures proposed to control them are not enforced.

The latest is said to have occurred when the boat hit a stump.

The stumps in the Volta Lake have been identified by residents of the area as constituting the main cause of boat accidents on the lake.

The police at Yeji confirmed the latest accident but could not give details, explaining that their team at the scene had not sent any official report.

A resident of the area, Mr Matthew Bedjanu, however, told the Graphic that the boat was carrying some 60 passengers and that casualties could be high as search teams were still at work.

He said the bodies so far retrieved had been sent to the morgue at a local hospital.

The boat, christened All shall Pass, was travelling from Alomokope to Yeji but on reaching Sobeme, there was a rainstorm so the captain tried to steer to a shelter to continue after the rain.

In the process, according to the secretary of the local Volta Lake Boat Owners Association, Mr Sammy Kofi Brown, the boat hit a stump and capsized.

Among the numerous boat disasters recorded on the Lake was the one that occurred on April 18, 2002, which claimed more than 50 lives, including 39 school children.

Following public outcry, the government set up a committee in August 2002 under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Paul Gyaesayor, a supervising High Court Judge, to investigate the circumstances that led to the incident and make recommendations to the government.

However, on April 21, 2003, the late Nana Kofi Ofosu Bekoe, Nkosuohene of Tapa Abotuase, lamented that a year after setting up the Committee, “the government had not been able to muster the will to implement the recommendation.”

The inquiry had established that overloading, stumps in the lake, uncertified boats and lack of equipment such as life jackets, contributed to the numerous accidents and high casualties.

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