Officials say only 20 people were rescued when a wooden boat carrying more than 150 passengers was sunk in a market.
Nigerian rescue workers pulled more than three dozen bodies out of water on Thursday after a congested river sank, leaving more than 150 people missing and feared drowning.
Survivors and officials said only 20 people were rescued on Wednesday, when a wooden boat carrying passengers to a market broke down and sank as it traveled between central Niger state and Wara in northwestern Kebi state. Was being
“Nine more bodies have been recovered. 45 bodies have been found so far. Abubakar Shehu, a local official supervising the rescue operation, told news agency AFP that the search for more bodies is on.
Riverboat tragedies on Nigerian waterways are typically congested, due to weather and lack of maintenance, but Wednesday’s toll will be one of the deadliest in recent years.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday called the accident “devastating” after the country’s Inland Waterways Authority said only 20 people had been rescued and another 156 were still missing.
Ali Ibrahim Garba, wearing an orange life jacket standing near wooden boats on the banks of the river, said rescue teams were still searching for the missing as many people as they could.
“Right now we are looking for three people, one male and two female,” he told AFP.
NIWA agency local manager Yusuf Birma told reporters on Wednesday that the boat was carrying about 180 people and it went down during its journey in an hour.
Local District Administrator Abdullahi Buhari Vara said that the boat had also loaded sand sacks from the gold mine.
The NIWA has banned nighttime sailing on the rivers to prevent accidents, saying that overloading ships is a criminal offense, but the captain and crew often ignore the rules.
In early May, 30 people were drowned by an overload boat overturning in the state of Niger.
The boat carrying 100 local merchants also split in two during the storm as they were returning from a local market.
The Niger, the main river in West Africa that runs from Guinea to the Niger Delta of Nigeria, is a major local trade route for some countries.