12-year-old was paddling canoe that drowned 9 schoolchildren at Bortianor

12-year-old was paddling canoe that drowned 9 schoolchildren at Bortianor

Nine schoolchildren have drowned at Faanaa-Bortianor in the Ga South Municipality after the canoe transporting them from school capsized in a canal last Wednesday afternoon.

Eight of the bodies of the children aged between one-and-half and 12 years were recovered at about 6 p.m. that same day of the incident, while the last one, a female named only as Victoria, was retrieved yesterday at about 11:30 a.m.

The deceased — three males and six females — were part of a group of 12 children who were on board the canoe when it capsized.

However, the remaining three, including the paddler of the canoe, survived the disaster.

It has been revealed by the MCE that a 12-year-old boy was paddling the canoe that drowned the nine schoolchildren.

The children, who lived with their parents and guardians at Faanaa, Bortianor (in Ga South), are pupils of a private school at Wiaboman behind Pambros (in Weija-Gbawe).

The children were crossing a canal which separates Faanaa from Wiaboman, after school when the incident occurred.

The Weija-Gbawe Municipal Director of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Emmanuel Adu-Boahen, who confirmed the incident to the Daily Graphic yesterday, said the victims had been identified and the bodies had been deposited at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Morgue for further investigations.

Identification, devastation

Mr Adu-Boahen also indicated that the Weija-Gbawe Municipal Chief Executive, Patrick Kumor; the Member of Parliament for Weija-Gbawe, Tina Mensah; the Ga South Municipal Chief Executive, Joseph Yarni Stephen; the Weija Polie Commander, Freeman Kumashie, and NADMO officials had also gone to the scene of the disaster and visited the affected families to commiserate with them.

“We just returned from the scene and so we are waiting for the next line of action from the MCE,” he said.

The Assemblyman for the Bortianor Electoral Area, Dan Bright Abayateye, described the situation as devastating and heartbreaking, adding that the incident was something that had never happened in the area.

Following the incident, he said, the people in the community were devastated.

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One of the three survivors, Enyonam Ekpe, among other things, alleged that the paddler, a 12-year-old, ignored suggestions for the number of persons on board the canoe to be divided since it was overloaded.

She said they did not have a choice but to join it since that was the only one available.

She explained that shortly after the canoe had moved, they were hit by a tidal wave causing it to capsize.

The police have since commenced investigations into the matter.

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