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We’re saddened by our children’s demise — Families

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo & Gilbert Agbey
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Family members of the 12 children who drowned while swimming in the sea in Apam in the Gomoa West District in the Central Region last Sunday say they are yet to come to terms with the death of their children.

According to them, the news of their passing came to them as a surprise, especially because they could not fathom out how the children managed to gather at the beach to engage in different forms of activities, including swimming, which resulted in the deaths.

Background

Apam, the capital of the Gomoa West District, was thrown into a state of mourning last Sunday when about 20 teenagers drowned in the sea.

So far, 12 dead bodies have been retrieved, two girls and 10 boys, while two males were rescued.

About three additional families have informed the police that their children had not returned home since Sunday.

When the Daily Graphic visited the community yesterday, it was observed that residents were still grieving, with some still finding it very difficult to come to terms with the incident, unheard of in the town.

Many residents were spotted in groups still discussing the incident, which has left many people dumbfounded, as they could not fathom how the children managed to get close to the forbidden area to entertain themselves.

A large number of the people were seen in black attire, with the homes of the deceased children receiving sympathisers.

Sunday special swimming

Information gathered on the ground indicated that some children in the town and some surrounding communities, aged between 13 and 17, had, for the past seven years, instituted Sunday special swimming when they assembled at the beach to engage in various forms of entertainment, reportedly on the blind side of the community.

The children went to the beach via an illegal route through a lagoon on the blind side of the leadership of the fisher folk, thereby making it virtually impossible for them to get help when the tragedy struck.

The Daily Graphic also gathered that on that fateful day, the children swam close to a place considered sacred to the community, which is about two miles away from the shore. Unfortunately, a heavy whirlwind swept them off balance, leading to their drowning.

Visits

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr Akwesi Agyeman, visited the community to commiserate with the families and the people.

He was in the company of the District Chief Executive for Gomoa West, Mr Bismark Baisie Nkum, who also called on the Chief Fisherman, Nana Kobina Caiquo, and his executive to gather first-hand information.

The Central Regional Coordinating Director, Mr Kingsley Adjei Boahen, together with officials of the Regional Coordinating Council, also paid a visit to commiserate with the bereaved families.

Mr Agyeman said the incident was preventable and advised Ghanaians to adhere to the ban on activities at the beaches to prevent such tragedies from reccurring.

Mr Nkum said that the District Security Council was still engaging families to conclude the funeral arrangements, adding that “the assembly will work to support the families to ensure successful burials”.

Nana Caiquo indicated that the incident was the first to occur in the town, and that the elders would intensify sensitisation on the ban to prevent children from going into the sea.

Parents saddened

Madam Aya Kwansima, whose 14-year-old daughter, popularly known as Adjovi, was among the deceased, told the Daily Graphic that they were home together when Adjovi went out, after turning down a request to undertake a chore.

She admitted seeing her daughter go out without disclosing where her she was headed, only for news to reach her in the evening that her daughter, along with others, had drowned.

Madam Kwansima said Adjovi’s body was washed ashore last Monday evening and she went with other relations to identify it before it was conveyed to the morgue.

Another parent, Ms Ama Akyere, whose 14-year-old boy was a victim, noted that she had lost a great son who supported her in the selling of fish for the upkeep of the family.

She said her son left home around 4 p.m. to pick his clothes from the drying lines, but did not return, only for information to reach him that he and others had gone swimming and drowned.

Ms Akyere explained that her son’s lifeless body was washed ashore last Monday evening, and after identification, it was taken to the morgue.

“I cannot take the news of the death of my son; it is very difficult for me to hold back my tears, since I have lost a strong pillar,” she said, amid sobs.

“As I speak to you I have a lot of fish to sell, some of which has started going bad due to the death of my son,” she added.

Madam Esi Maama, another parent, who could not pull herself together, said her 14-year-old son informed her that he was going to play football, after declining to take supper, which was ready.

The death of the boy, she said, was a big blow to the family.

Madam Efua Arthur, another parent, described her deceased 13-year-old son as a very respectful and disciplined child who would be missed by the family.Apam beach drowning; 12 bodies retrieved

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