Bodies of Drowned St John River Victims Recovered

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The lifeless bodies of the four persons drowned in the St. John River between Nimba and Bong Counties on May 31st have been recovered.

Their remains were found following a vigorous search over the past several days.

Police sources told our Nimba County correspondent that two of the four missing people’s bodies were discovered on June 3rd around the same vicinity where they had fallen off the bridge into the river.

The first two bodies recovered were Zawolo Duopleyee, 42, and his six-year-old daughter Grace Duopleyee. The bodies of his wife Oretha Duopleyee and the motorcyclist Emmanuel Yini, were found further downstream.

The four persons, on Saturday, May 31st went missing after the motorcycle transporting them across the bridge plunged into the St. John River linking Nimba and Bong, around the Township of Douh in the Maipea Mah Administrative District in Nimba County.

According to police, Zawolo Duopleyee, along with his wife and daughter, was riding on the motorbike heading for the Bong County town of Botota to attend the post-burial feast of his wife’s late father.

On the bike, they also had a half bag of rice and a pig that they were carrying for the festival. An eyewitness on the scene said when the bike rider lost control of his bike midway on the ArcelorMittal access bridge linking the two counties, and all of them were plunged into the river.  

All the deceased were from Banakpalah town, 15 kilometers north of where the accident occurred.

The access bridge over the St. John River has no railing guard on either side. It is also open in the middle with only three or four planks on each side. The bridge is therefore better suited for vehicles than for bikes.

Our correspondent said because the bridge offers a shortcut from Nimba to most Bong and Grand Bassa Counties towns, commercial drivers prefer to use it instead of the main road that links Ganta and Gbarnga, two of the biggest cities in both Nimba and Bong respectively.

Last year, a mini truck known locally as 'Kia motor', nearly fell into the river with marketers from Ganta while en route to Zoweita when one of the planks on the bridge collapsed.

According to our correspondent, latest information suggests that ArcelorMittal has brought in all materials to construct guard rails on the bridge.

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