Mass burial suggested for victims of Apam tragedy

The leadership of the Apam Fishing Community has linked Sunday’s tragic drowning of 12 children at the beach to spiritual forces, saying the children swam at the sacred portion of the sea.

They therefore insisted that further rituals needed to be performed to avert another calamity.

The leadership of the fisherfolks as well as the Police Command expressed shock about the incident, since they had strictly enforced the ban on activities at the beach.

“We are surprised about what has happened, because we have ensured strict compliance of the ban on activities at the beach,” they stated.

This came to light when the Central Regional Coordinating Director, Mr Adjei Boahen together with officials of the Ghana police Service, NADMO and the National Fire Service visited the scene to interact with the leadership of the fishermen on Tuesday.

The visit was on the instruction of the Regional Minister designate, Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, to enable the team get first had information on the incident, discuss and also ascertain the possible mode of burial for the victims but it was inconclusive.

The children, aged between 12 and 17 years were said to have used an alternative route to enter the sea at the blind side of the fisher folk and the Police at the beach, because of the nationwide ban on beach activities following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nana Kow Panyin, Deputy Chief Fisherman of Apam, told the team that more consultations had to be done with the chief of Apam and the individual families to come to a consensus on whether the children should be given a mass burial after the necessary rituals were made.

Briefing the team about the incident, he said a ‘good Samaritan’ raised the alarm that some children, numbering between 15 and 20 were swimming in the sea at about 1800 hours on Sunday.

Nana Panyin said on their way to rescue them, they were told that four of the children had drowned, while two others who were rescued alive and were sent to the St Luke Catholic Hospital for medical attention.

He said they quickly mobilised and started searching for the bodies amidst pouring of libation and performing of rituals, but they were unsuccessful and had to retire after midnight.

However, four lifeless bodies were retrieved on Monday around 0700 hours with three others at around 1000hrs, while at around 1400hrs five other bodies were also found, bringing the total bodies so far retrieved to 12, including two females.

He said one of the children from Cape Coast was staying with a relative, another was from Takoradi, two from Ankamu, a nearby community with the rest being natives of Apam.

Police preliminary investigations indicated that while the children were swimming, a heavy tidal wind blew and drowned them and carried their bodies away.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Moses Osakonor, Apam District Police Commander confirmed that the children were primary and JHS pupils.

The DCE, Mr Bismark Baisie Inkoom, said before the outbreak of COVID-19, there was a practice where people engaged in swimming competition dubbed “Sunday Special” but was stopped because of the ban on beach activities.

According to the DCE, the incident though tragic and traumatizing, had offered them the opportunity to put in place stringent security measures including the formation of community task-force to help forestall such occurrences.

He expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and urged them to be encouraged by the fact that God was the giver and taker of life.

Source: GNA

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