Dozens Feared Dead After Boat Sinks in Nigeria

Dozens of people were missing and feared dead on May 26 after a boat carrying about 200 passengers sank in northwest Nigeria.

A rescue operation of divers and emergency workers are searching for those missing and feared drowned after a boat in Niger River split into two and sank, local officials told local press.

“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,” National Inland Waterways Authority Local Manager Yusuf Birma told reporters.

According to Birma, the boat was sailing from central Niger state to northwest Kebbi state when it sank.

“The boat involved was a wooden boat which was old and very weak but these people would not listen when we sensitized them to reduce the number of passengers they carry in their boats,” Birma said.

Ngaski District Head Abdullahi Buhari Wara also blamed the accident on overloading as the boat was meant to carry no more than 80 passengers.

The boat also carried bags of sand from a gold mine, Wara told AFP News.

Earlier reports said that the number of passengers was 160, but Kebbi government spokesperson Yahaya Sarki later put the number at 200.

Boat accidents along the River Niger are common, often caused by overcrowding, poor maintenance and safety, and collisions with tree trunks under the water.

Earlier this month, 30 people drowned when a boat carrying 100 passengers collided with a stump during a storm, causing it to split into two and to capsize.

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