A landing jetty at Isaka in Okrika Local Government Area in Rivers State has collapsed, with about twenty passengers believed to have drowned.
The incident happened Saturday evening as passengers were struggling to board the boat from the community back to Port Harcourt.
An eyewitness, who identified himself as Isaac Walter, said more than 70 passengers had queued to board a boat to Port Harcourt when the jetty caved in.
It was gathered that there was a big burial programme that attracted many people to the area and that the population had caused a rush for the boat.
According to eye witnesses report, over 80 people were on the jetty, causing pressure on the old, rickety facility.
It was further learnt that when the jetty caved in all the passengers on it fell into the river.
Mr Walter, a resident of the area who witnessed the incident, said that many persons have not been found since the accident.
“Today, we had a burial programme at Isaka and a lot of people were in attendance. On our way back, people came to board the vessel at the jetty.
“On that process, the jetty caved and so many people fell into the river and they were not able to be rescued. Few of them were rescued easily. I was standing a bit away from the point that caved in.
“The jetty is an old jetty. It was during Komo’s period (as military administrator of the state) that they inaugurated that jetty. We have tried to get another jetty, but we could not.
“The people came on it, the pressure was on the jetty and then, it caved in. The people on the jetty at moment were more than 70. Local divers are still combing the area to find survivors. Though some were rescued.
‘”To be candid, I may not say exactly the number of people that have not been found, but they should be up to 20.”
It was gathered that local divers combed the area in search of survivors, while some, according to the eyewitness, have been rescued with the help of boat drivers.
Two women who were rescued narrated their experiences.
One of them, identified as Tamunosowebi, explained: ‘We went for the burial of our colleague’s mother-in-law. As we reached the jetty, we saw a crowd there. So, we asked everyone to queue up.
‘”Before we closed our mouths, the first one broke. I jumped from the first one to the second one. Before I would land on the second side of the jetty, it collapsed. I found myself deep inside the water. I was shouting “Jesus, Jesus” before the rescue team came to help me. We were many about 80 persons on the jetty.’
Another survivor, Mrs Obele Fiberesima, said: ‘We were at the jetty waiting to come back to Macoba, Port Harcourt. “As we were there, there was a crowd waiting and only a boat was available. It cannot contain everybody. Before we could say queue up, everybody was inside the water. It was God that saved us.”