Heavy rainfall around the 7,000 feet above sea level Mambilla Plateau which forced water to rush down to the river where tthey were swimming caused the death of nine corps members in Taraba State, local residents told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday.
Bodies of two of the nine dead NYSC members were yet to be recovered yesterday, 48 hours after they drowned in River Mayo-Selbe in Gashaka falls, Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State on Saturday.
Names of the affected corps members were yet to be released by the NYSC.
Twenty two NYSC members doing their national youths service in Taraba State, were on a picnic when the incident occurred on Saturday.
Governor Darius Ishaku has condoled with the NYSC and families of corps members.
In a statement by his Media assistant Bala Dan-Abu in Jalingo on Monday, Ishaku described the incident as unfortunate and regrettable.
“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.”
The NYSC has declared three days of mourning. NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations Mrs Adeyemi Adenike in a statement said “The entire NYSC family is shocked and saddened by the cruel twist of fate that befell our corps members.
“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.
Adenike said that during the mourning, NYSC flags would fly half-mast nationwide.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday expressed sadness over the tragic drowning of the NYSC members
He said: “This terrible occurrence has ended the lives of these young men and women bringing an abrupt end to their lives while they were dutifully engaged in National Service.
“The Federal Government appreciates their service to the nation and it is my prayer that God will comfort their families and loved ones, and that we would not witness such a calamity again.
“I would like to express my condolences to the families of the late youth corps members, the NYSC management and the people of Taraba State, where the sorrowful incident occurred and Edo, Enugu, Delta and Imo States from where the identified victims hailed.”