More than 100 feared dead after ferry 'breaks in two'

·2-min read

A boat ferrying about 200 people has capsized leaving more than 100 missing and feared dead.

The wooden boat capsized near Wara, on the Kainji Lake, in northwestern Nigeria on Wednesday, Yahaya Sarki, a spokesman for the governor of Kebbi, said.

The Kainji Lake is part of the Niger River.

Twenty-two people have been rescued and five bodies recovered, including a baby less than a year old, Sani Dododo, chairman of the Kebbi State Emergency Management Agency, told The Associated Press.

Two men fish in the Niger River by the Martyrs Bridge in Bamako.
Men seen fishing in the Niger River by the Martyrs Bridge, in Bamako. Source: Getty Images, file

“We have two male and two female corpses, while the fifth is that of a baby that is less than one year old,” he said, adding the mother of the infant had not been identified.

However, one survivor, Buhari Abubakar, said about 40 had been rescued.

Eleven rescue boats and divers were searching for about 138 missing passengers as anxiety grew among relatives of those missing.

One passenger rescued from the boat, Shehu Bello, told AP maybe five children were with him when the boat sank and all of them were still missing, making him incredibly worried.

“Two of the children are mine, while the other three are the children of my brother,” he said.

Mr Bello said the boat broke apart suddenly and then started to sink. There are reports the boat split into two pieces.

Qasimu Umar Wara, a Wara resident, said his brother remained missing.

“This is the worst boat accident that has happened in this water,” he said.

Ferry was carrying workers on the Niger River 

Many of the passengers were returning from a newly-discovered gold vein in Niger, Mr Wara said.

"They usually go there in the evenings and return to Wara in the morning," he said.

"Most of them are petty traders, food vendors and the local miners."

It was unclear what caused the boat to break up as it was traveling on the Niger River from Nigeria’s Niger state to the town of Wara in Kebbi state.

Boat accidents are common in Nigeria, especially along the Niger River, due to overloading, poor conditions of the boats and collisions with debris under water.

with The Associated Press and Reuters

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