About 150 people are feared dead in Niger State after an overloaded boat on Wednesday May 26, capsized and sank in the River Niger.
The overloaded vessel was ferrying passengers to a market between central Niger State and Wara in northwest Kebbi state when it sank. Passengers were heading to a market in Malele in Borgu local government area of Niger state; when the boat sank an hour into the journey
This was disclosed by an official of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Yusuf Birma.
Birma disclosed that rescue efforts had recovered about 20 while nearly 156 passengers are still missing.
“The boat capacity was not up to the 180 passengers it carried. As we speak, only 20 people have been rescued alive, four dead confirmed; while the remaining 156 people are still missing and they are believed to be underwater,” he stated.
In addition, he decried the overloading of the vessel which he disclosed had a capacity of 80 passengers.
“The boat involved was a wooden boat which was old and very weak. But these people (skippers) would not listen when we sensitised them to reduce the number of passengers they carry in their boats.
‘‘Twenty-two people had been rescued and five bodies recovered, including an infant. We have two male and two female corpses, while the fifth is that of a baby that is less than 1 year old, whose mother is yet to be identified” he said.
One passenger rescued from the boat, Shehu Bello, told AP that five children were with him when the boat sank; adding that all of them were missing.
“Two of the children are mine, while the other three are the children of my brother,” he said.