*Kebbi Boat Accident Devastating, Says PMB
A boat carrying 180 passengers from Loko Mina in Nige State to a village near Ngaski in Kebbi State, yesterday capsized and claimed 110 of the travellers on board.
It was learnt that the mishap occurred when the boat hit a stem of a tree under the water a few kilometres from its take-off, making it to lose control at the upper course of the Niger River.
An eyewitness said the boat took off from Loko Mina in Niger State by 7:30 am with 180 passengers who did not wear protective jackets
Most of the passengers, he said were from Kebbi State and were heading to a market.
The source said the boat mishap occurred around Ibata village part of the river near Malale
While confirming the incident the director-general of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency Alhajii Ahmed Inga said what worsened the mishap was overloading and the old age of the boat. He said as at the time of the last report he received, 20 people were rescued, four corpses recovered, adding that search and rescue operation was on going by the marine police, National Inland Waterway Agency (NIWA) and local divers.
Earlier, officials of Kebbi State had said 150 were missing and 22 rescued.
They said the incident occurred in Warrah, headquarters of Ngaski local government area after take-off from Malale in Borgu local government area of Niger State.
The chairman of Warrah local government area, Alhaji Abdullahi Haruna, who confirmed the incident to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the boat left Niger State with 150 passengers before it capsized in Warrah.
Haruna said the accident happened yesterday at about 11 am but the Niger officials said it was 3pm.
The council chief stated that 22 people who wore live jackets were rescued from the mishap, adding that rescue search was ongoing for the missing passengers.
The spokesman of the state police command, DSP Nafiu Abubakar, who also confirmed the disaster, said he will make public their findings.
Cases of boat mishaps in Niger State have been on the rise in recent years.
Between 2019 and 2020, at least 50 people lost their lives on the Malale River following incidents of boat mishaps.
In April 2021, a boat carrying over 70 passengers, mostly farmers and traders capsized on a river at Zumba in Munya local government area of the state, leaving scores dead.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the news of the capsizing of the boat in Ngaski local government area of Kebbi State as devastating and offered his heartfelt condolences to the families of those affected by this tragedy.
The president in a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, extended his gratitude to those involved in the rescue efforts and wished the injured from the accident quick recovery.