Nigeria boat accident: More bodies retrieved


Nigerian rescue personnel rescued over three dozen corpses from the water on Thursday after a packed river boat sank, drowning over 150 passengers.

Survivors and authorities claimed just 20 people were rescued on Wednesday when the wooden boat ferrying passengers to a market broke and sank when traveling between Central Nigerian state and Wara in northwest Kebbi state.

“There were nine more corpses found. Forty-five bodies have been discovered so far. The hunt for more bodies continues,” Abubakar Shehu, a local rescue operation supervisor, said to AFP.

Riverboat tragic events are prevalent in Nigerian waterways mostly because of overcrowding, weather, and maintenance shortages, but Wednesday’s incident is one of the deadliest in recent years.

President Muhammadu Buhari termed the tragedy “devastating” on Wednesday after the country’s internal waterways government claimed just 20 people were recovered and 156 more were missing.

“When the boat broke into two, I wondered if people were sinking into the water,” Usman Umar, a survivor, told AFP standing on the Ngaski river bank in Kebbi.

“The boat had a capacity of close to 150 passengers; we survivors couldn’t have been more than 20.”

Ali Ibrahim Garba, wearing an orange lifejacket on the river banks among wooden boats, said they were still looking for missing people after rescuing as many as he was capable of.

“We are looking for three people right now, one man and two ladies,” he stated.

Local manager Yusuf Birma of the NIWA agency told reporters that the boat was overloaded by 180 people on Wednesday and sank after an hour of traveling.

Moreover, local district manager Abdullahi Buhari Wara stated that the boat was also filled with bags of sand from a gold mine.

NIWA has prohibited night sailing along the rivers to reduce accidents and states that overloading boats are a criminal crime, although skippers and crews regularly ignore the laws.

At the beginning of May, 30 people perished in Niger when an overcrowded ship capsized.

The boat that carried 100 local traders also broke in two when it hit a trunk during a storm as they returned from a local market.

The Niger, the primary river of West Africa crossing through Guinea to Nigeria’s Niger Delta, is a major local commerce route for certain nations.



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