by Kunle Falayi
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.
The body of an unidentified man was washed ashore on Saturday.
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.
“I can’t imagine what Tunde is going through right now. They have not been able to find his wife and second child. This is a tragedy,” a man who refused to give his name told our correspondent.
One of the bodies recovered was also said to be that of a 32-year-old man identified simply as Arthur.
“We all know him here. I am not sure anybody knows his surname. We all called him Arthur,” one of the traders at the scene told The PUNCH.
The third body was that of a man identified simply by traders at the beach as Alhaji.
Our correspondent observed that as the rescuers at the beach brought the bodies, their sympathisers and curious residents also besieged the beach and wailed each time a body was recovered and put into a body bag by LASEMA officials.
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.”
Our correspondent reported that 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.
But the residents and traders, who spoke to our correspondents, said they had nowhere else to go. They said the beach was their only source of livelihood.
One of them, Musiliu Ashiru, said, “Do you know how much we make here every day? Do you know how much we will lose in this demolition? This is the only source of livelihood we have.
“I don’t know what I would do now that this place has been destroyed. Apart from that, we maintain these sheds with a lot of money.”
An owner of a drinking joint on the beach, Mrs. Oge Oluchi, told our correspondent that she had invested all she had in the business.
Oluchi said. “This is like starting life all over. Our problem is where to get a shop quickly and continue my business.
“We know the government is concerned about lives but they should understand that we are losing a lot of money as they have driven us away from here.”
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