Eight dead and an estimated 100 people missing after the latest Nigeria boat accident
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Eight passengers were confirmed dead and an estimated 100 were missing after their overloaded boat capsized in north-central Nigeria, the emergency services said Tuesday.
It is the latest in a series of deadly boat accidents that increasingly point to regulatory failures.
The passengers were being conveyed from Niger state’s Borgu district to a market in the neighbouring Kebbi state on Monday afternoon when the boat overturned in the Niger River, according to Niger State Emergency Management Agency spokesman Ibrahim Audu.
“The boat was overloaded so the strong wind affected them,” Audu said.
He said the boat’s capacity is 100 passengers but it was estimated to be carrying a much higher number, in addition to bags of grain, making it difficult to control when it began to sink.
Villagers were helping local divers and emergency officials to search for the missing passengers, many of whom were women, Audu said. He could not say how many people had survived.
Boat disasters have become rampant in remote communities across Nigeria, where locals desperate to get their farm products to market end up overcrowded in locally made boats in the absence of good and accessible roads.
There is no record of the total death toll in these accidents, though there have been at least five involving at least 100 passengers each in the past seven months.
Past accidents have been blamed on overloading, the condition of the boat or a hindrance of the boat’s movement along the water. And intervention measures announced in response by authorities — such as the provision of life jackets or enforcing of waterways regulations — are usually not carried out.