More than 100 people have died in north-central Nigeria after a boat carrying families returning from a wedding sank in a river, police and local authorities said on Tuesday.
The local police and the state governor’s office, which did not explain the reasons for the sinking, said that the river boat was transporting its passengers to Kwara state from Niger state (west) when the accident occurred.
So far we have counted 103 dead. “More than 100 people have been rescued,” Kwara state police spokesman Okasanmi Agayi told AFP.
“The search is still ongoing, which means the death toll may continue to rise,” he added.
The victims returned to Batigi district of Kwara State, after having a wedding in Niger State, according to the Kwara State Governor’s Office.
The spokesman for the governor, Raviu Agakaye, said the accident occurred on the road between Igboti, Niger state and Kabada, Kwara state.
The governor expressed his “sadness” after the drama that affected “in particular the people of Ibo, Dzakan, Kabada, Kochalo, Sambi”, the localities of Batigi State.
It “sends its sincere condolences to these communities as well as in other countries,” given that passengers from other parts of the country were on board.
Meanwhile, the governor continues to monitor relief efforts already mobilized since Monday night for possible survivors.
Too many accidents
Shipwrecks in rivers and rivers in Nigeria are common. They are usually due to overloaded boats, poorly maintained boats, or failure to comply with safety rules.
Last month, 15 children drowned and 25 others were missing after an overloaded boat capsized in the northwestern state of Sokoto while they were on their way to collect firewood.
And in early December 2021, another overloaded ship sank, killing 29 people, most of them children.
During the great floods in the country last December, in the middle of the rainy season, at least 76 people lost their lives when their boat sank in a flooded river in Anambra State (southeast).
The Niger River is the main waterway in West Africa and a major trade route for many countries, including Nigeria.
The National Rivers Regulatory Authority has attempted to ban nighttime navigation with the goal of reducing accidents, also claiming that it is a crime to overload a boat. But sailors often ignore these rules.