The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and Governor Darius Ishaku are mourning the death of nine corp members who drowned on Saturday at the Mayo-Selbe river near the Gashaka Falls in Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba state.
The NYSC declared three days of mourning, during which its flags will fly at half staff nationwide. Governor Ishaku has sent messages of condolence to the NYSC and the families of the corps members.
Mrs Adeyemi Adenike, the NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations said that the nine corps members left their places of primary assignment on Saturday for a picnic by the riverside, adding that they drowned as a result of the sudden increase in water volume.
Local residents said that there was a heavy rainfall around Mambilla Plateau of over 7,000 feet above sea level, forcing the water to surge down to the river.
Adenike said that seven bodies had so far been recovered from the river by local divers and security agents while the search for the remaining missing two corps members was ongoing.
“The entire NYSC family is shocked and saddened by the cruel twist of fate that befell our corps members.
“The corps members drowned as a result of the sudden increase in water volume and surge of River Mayo-Selbe near the Gashaka Falls in Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba.
“Seven bodies have so far been recovered from the river by local divers and security agents while the search for the remaining two missing corps members is ongoing.
“Management has, therefore, declared three-day mourning for the souls of our departed heroes; beginning from Monday Aug, 6.
“Our condolences are with the families at this moment,“ she said.
The NYSC in Abuja has so far not identified the nine victims. But NAN learnt families of all the nine corps members have been contacted by the officials in Jalingo.
Gov. Darius Ishaku expressed his condolences in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Bala Dan-Abu, in Jalingo on Monday.
Ishaku described the incident as unfortunate and regrettable.
“My sympathy goes to the families, the National Youth Service Corps and colleagues of the nine corps members who drowned during a picnic in Gashaka Local Government Area of the state on Saturday.
“I pray God Almighty to grant the parents and relations of the deceased the fortitude to bear these painful losses,“ he said.
Ishaku advised corps members to always inform officials of NYSC and those of their primary assignments, in advance, plans to travel and attend social outings prone to some hazards.
“This unfortunate case of drowning of young men and women perhaps, could have been avoided if participants in the tragic picnic incident had involved the NYSC officials and other security agencies.
“I, therefore, urge youth corps members serving across the country to always involve authorities in their areas of their plans to embark on exercise and seek the company of rescue officials, in case things go wrong.”