Abuja [Nigeria], June 14 (TN): Hundreds of people, including wedding guests, are feared dead in Nigeria after a boat capsized in the Niger River early Monday, CNN reported while quoting a local chief.
The boat was said to be carrying up to 300 people overturned after hitting a tree trunk, CNN reported citing the traditional chief in Kpada Abdul Gana Lukpada. He said that the accident took place in the early hours of Monday (local time).
Abdul Gana Lukpada, a traditional chief in Kpada in Patigi district of north-central Kwara State said some stranded wedding guests using a boat had resorted to crossing the river from Egboti village in Niger State to Kpada after heavy rains that flooded the roads.
Lukpada said that there was a marriage ceremony in a nearby village and it started raining after the ceremony. The people who attended the wedding who could not ride motorcycles decided to use boat to move people out of Egboti village.
“There was a marriage ceremony in a nearby village … Egboti village which is by the river Niger. The terrain of the community is terrible when it rains. After the ceremony, it rained, so those who attended with motorcycles could not ride the motorcycles out of the community. They decided to use a big boat to convey people out of Egboti,” CNN quoted Abdul Gana Lukpada as saying.
Abdul Gana Lukpada said that the boat was carrying up to 300 people, which included both men and women from various communities. He further said, “It was early on Monday between 3:00 – 4:00 am. As they sailed, the boat hit a tree branch hiding in the water and it split into two. The volume of water was high, so it carried the passengers away. I’ve been informed that only 53 escaped. The rest are feared dead.”
Lukpada termed the accident as a “big tragedy” and further said that he has lost four of his neighbours. Speaking to CNN, Ajayi Okasanmi, spokesperson for the police command in Kwara, said, that a team has been deployed in the region to conduct on-the-spot assessment of what happened.”
The Kwara State government has offered sympathies to the families of the victims. It further said that they are monitoring the rescue efforts that are being conducted to find the survivors, a spokesperson for the government, Rafiu Ajakaye, said in a statement, CNN reported. Earlier in May, at least 15 people died after a boat capsized in Nigeria’s Sokoto. (TN)