President Muhammadu Buhari has described the capsizing of a boat bound for Kebbi State as devastating and offered his heartfelt condolence to the families affected by the tragedy.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on Wednesday, he disclosed that ‘efforts are ongoing to recover more survivors, the President extends his gratitude to all those involved in the rescue efforts and wishes those injured from the accident quick recovery.’
The statement which based its reports on social media revealed that there has been no official confirmation on the number of casualties.
On Wednesday, dozens of people were feared dead after a boat carrying about 200 persons broke into two and sank.
It was gathered that most passengers were women and children travelling from Niger to the North-Western State of Kebbi.
According to the BBC, one survivor said about 40 people had been rescued, but it is unlikely that many more survivors will be found.
Also divers and emergency workers were trying to save others as five bodies have been recovered.
“Bodies are still being recovered. We can’t ascertain the number for now,” Yahaya Sarki, a spokesman for the governor of Kebbi, told the Reuters news agency.
Abdullahi Buhari Wara, administrative head of Ngaski district, told the AFP news agency that he blamed the accident on overloading, as the boat was meant to carry no more than 80 passengers.
The boat was also loaded with bags of sand from a gold mine, he said.
Qasimu Umar Wara, a resident of the nearby town of Wara, said that five bodies had been recovered but many more are expected to wash up in the days ahead.
The boat was overloaded, he said: “My brother is among those missing. This is the worst boat accident that has happened in this water.”
Boat accidents along the River Niger are common with overcrowding a major cause, as well as collisions with tree trunks under the water.