The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has blamed the drowning of a mother and her three children in the Viepe-Torkor lagoon at Laklevikope on Seven Seas Salt Company Limited.
The woman, her husband and their children went on a fishing expedition in the lagoon, located near Denu in the Ketu South municipality, last Saturday when they fell into a trench on the bed of the lagoon, resulting in the death of the woman, her son and two daughters, all basic school pupils.
The Municipal Director of NADMO, Torgbui Paul Alossode, told the Daily Graphic last Wednesday that the tragedy was also the result of the failure of the salt mining company to erect danger signals in the lagoon.
Meanwhile, he disclosed the identities of the deceased as Yawa Apena, 41, who drowned along with her children, Bridget Amewu, 14; Daddy Amewu, 10, and Sitsofe Amewu, eight.
Their bodies were sent to the morgue at the Ketu South Municipal Hospital soon after the incident.
The Municipal NADMO Director said the father, Atitso Amewu, who also nearly drowned and was rushed to the same hospital in critical condition, had since been discharged.
Torgbui Alossode said the last tragedy brought to six the number of people who had gone fishing in the lagoon and fallen into similar trenches and drowned since the beginning of this year.
The director said the company put up dikes in the lagoon as part of its salt mining activities, leaving trenches in the water body.
Dikes are long walls and embankments built to prevent flooding from the sea.
Fishing in the lagoon is often done on foot in the area due to the low level of the water.
“For now, the company must halt the creation of more dikes in the lagoon,” Torgbui Alossode insisted.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of Seven Seas Company Limited, Adams Mensah, maintained that the company did not flout safety regulations.
He explained that the company carried out salt mining activities strictly under the concession which it was given by the Minerals Commission.
Mr Mensah said the dikes were constructed in the concessions and the trenches around them were not yet filled due to the recent rains.
“We were only waiting for the dry season to level up the trenches when this happened,” he added.
The PRO said the company was set to start paying out compensation to about 100 individual fish pond owners whose ponds fell within the concession when the tragedy occurred.
Mr Mensah said the communities around the lagoon were aware that Seven Seas Company was operating in a concession that was “a no-go area”.
According to him, the company had earlier erected signposts at vantage points to indicate where the construction of dikes and other activities of the company were ongoing.
“So we are all very sad about this unfortunate incident,” he added.
As part of investigations into the matter, he said, NADMO had demanded the documents covering the environmental assessment plans and feasibility studies undertaken by the company and the approval papers from the Environmental Protection Agency.