Tragedy struck in Niger State as over 150 people were feared drowned after an overloaded boat capsized and sank in the River Niger.
The incident occurred on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
Reports indicate that the overloaded vessel was ferrying passengers to a market. It was travelling 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.
Further, 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,’’ he said.
Equally important, the mother of the infant is yet to be identified.
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.
Further contributing to the tragedy was the fact that the vessel was loaded with bags of sand from a gold mine. Earlier this month, 30 people drowned when an overloaded boat capsized in Niger state.
The boat was ferrying 100 local traders and split into two; after hitting a stump during a storm as they were returning from a market.