Five students drown during excursion to Kaduna River

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…As Australia skydiving leads to 3 deaths after ‘mid-air collision’***

”Rise from where ever you are. Rise from where ever you are…” was the cry of one of the parents of the five students of a private secondary school, Victory College, Ungwan Yelwa in Chikun Local Government Area in Kaduna State, who drowned Wednesday morning, during an excursion to River Kaduna.

It was gathered that the drowned students were part of the 73 students of the school led to the Kaduna Water Pump Station, located around the popular Kaduna Railway Station, by two members of staff of the school.

According to eyewitnesses, the students were taken to the water intake point, when a board that serves as a viewing point caved in under their weight. Although nine students were said to have fallen into the river, four of them were rescued, while five were swept away by the fast flowing river.

The five students, who remained unaccounted for at press time, are Goodness Aromilade, Monday Umahi, Joseph Benedict and David Ukegbu, and the only female student in the group, Priscilla Romania.

There’s little hope —Emergency agency Speaking with journalists at the scene of the incident, the Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Ezekiel Baba-Karik, said the bodies of the five students were yet to be recovered by rescuers because the agency lacked the capacity to do so.

He expressed fear that more than 20 hours after the incident, there was no likelihood that the students may still be found alive. He said: “This unfortunate incident occurred yesterday (Wednesday) when some students came on excursion to the water-intake of the Kaduna State Water Board.

“They came on excursion and mistakenly something went wrong technically and nine students fell in the water. But as information reached us, we swung into action immediately and an hour later, we rescued four out of the nine students. “As you can see, our men are here to see if we can recover the remaining five bodies. That is why we are here.

There is nothing God cannot do, but humanly speaking, this is over 20 hours after the incident occurred. “It is impossible to get them out alive, but our people are working on the possibility of recovering their bodies. Now, our divers are inside the river to see if we can recover them.”

The incident has sparked outrage among parents and members of the public for the negligence of the school management as well as the slow response of the state emergency management agency.

In the meantime, three skydivers have died in Queensland after they apparently collided mid-air, say Australian authorities.

Paramedics and police were called to Mission Beach, a popular skydiving spot about 140km (87 miles) south of Cairns.

Two men in their 30s, and a woman in her 50s, were found dead at the scene, Queensland police said in a statement.

Police said initial investigations found one person may have collided with tandem skydivers, and their parachutes failed to deploy correctly.

Queensland’s ambulance service told the Australian Broadcasting Corporationthat one skydiver was found in the garden of a residence, and the other two were found close by.

A resident was also quoted as saying the bodies were found about 1.5km north of the usual landing site.

Operating company Skydive Australia told local media that it had suspended its operations at Mission Beach while an investigation took place.

The solo skydiver was a “highly experienced instructor who had completed thousands of jumps”, while the other two were a customer and another experienced instructor, it said in a statement.

“The company extends its deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the individuals and families involved and the broader skydiving community,” it added.

An unnamed eyewitness told the Cairns Post that he saw one of the skydivers falling. “You could see one chute was tangled and it wasn’t opening.”

“I was just watching him in free fall until he went behind the trees, and that was the last I saw,” he said.

“It wasn’t good to watch. I had my heart in my mouth.”

The area’s local mayor, John Kremastos, told the ABC that the incident was “horrible news”, saying: “Three people in one accident is very, very sad.”

Skydiving is a popular tourist activity in the area, with many of the backpackers who travel the Queensland coast stopping by Mission Beach.

Vanguard with additional report from BBC

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