Violent ocean surge claimed over 16 lives in Lagos

Three bodies, including that of a six-year-old-girl, were on Sunday recovered from Kuramo Beach in Lagos where about 16 people were swept into the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.

The three bodies, recovered during a joint operation supervised by officials of the state Ministry of Waterfront, state Emergency Management Agency and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, brought to four, the number of bodies recovered since Saturday.

So far, only the body of the local diver earlier found on Saturday has been identified. The local diver identified simply as Olurunwa lost his life in his attempt to save the drowning victims.

The six-year old girl, Bisi Kolawole, was said to be the daughter of one of the traders at the beach front. Her father, Tunde, was seen crying uncontrollably as the body was being put in a sack.

Tunde operates a drinking joint with his wife at the beach. Bisi’s mother and her other siblings were still missing as at Sunday.

The surge, which the state government said had been expected, tore through settlements around the Kuramo Beach and destroyed buildings and shelters constructed with planks.

The government said it had warned the traders and residents around the area to vacate the surroundings.

Commissioner for the Waterfront, Mr. Segun Oniru, who was also at the scene on Sunday, said three major surges were expected in the year but added the government did not know that the surge on Saturday would be as deadly as it was.

“Another surge is expected by November. What we have seen here is a powerful surge and high waves,” Oniru said.

The General Manager of LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the residents near the beach had been given enough time to evacuate.

Osanyintolu said, “We started the operation here on Saturday immediately after the surge. This is the recovery stage.

“Governor Babatunde Fashola has ordered that the area should be evacuated. We will enforce the evacuation order.

“People should understand that life has no spare parts. There are lands at Badagry, Ikorodu and Agbowa where people could settle instead of endangering their lives in coastal areas.”

Officials of the state’s demolition task force moved into the beach on Sunday afternoon and commenced the destruction of structures while traders were seen making last-minute efforts to salvage some of their belongings.