Hundreds of people are feared killed after a boat carrying about 160 passengers broke in two and sank in River Niger on Wednesday.
A source said only 22 passengers had been rescued as at 6:30 pm and 4 corpses have been recovered from the mishap which was attributed to overloading.
It was learnt that the boat was meant to carry no more than 80 passengers and was also weighed down with bags of sand from a gold mine.
Abdullahi Buhari Wara, an administrative head of the Ngaski district, said the boat was overloaded as it left central Niger and was traveling on the river, when it broke apart and sank.
“A rescue operation is underway but only 22 survivors and one dead body have been recovered,” said Wara. “We are talking of around 140 passengers still missing.”
“The chances to find any more people alive are almost impossible, as the boat capsized last night and people are still underwater,” he said on Thursday morning.
One survivor, Buhari Abubakar, said most of the passengers were women, with children also among the missing.
Wara resident Qasimu Umar Wara said locals expected more people to wash to shore in the coming days.
“My brother is among the missing. This is the worst boat accident that has happened in this water,” he told Reuters.
He said most of the passengers were returning from a newly-discovered gold vein in neighboring Niger.
The Wara resident said most of the people who take the boat travel in the evening and return in the mornings
“Most of them are petty traders, food vendors and the local miners. Bodies are still being recovered. We can’t ascertain the number for now,” he added.
KanyiDaily had also reported how at least 10 people died on Friday when a boat carrying 35 passengers bound for Port Harcourt capsized and sank