It was an admixture of bad and good news from Niger State over the wooden and old boat that capsized between Kebbi and Niger States, an hour after taking off from Kebbi State. Scores are still missing, while 76 have died and an additional six have been rescued. 20 were rescued on Wednesday.
But details of exactly where the tragedy took place, whether Niger or Kebbi state, or how many were on the rickety boat, still remained fuzzy as the information from the Police and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) differ.
The Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) says 76 corpses have so far been recovered from the boat mishap that occurred in Tshohuwar Labata village in Ngaski Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
The Area Manager of NIWA in the state, Birma Yusuf, disclosed this to Daily Trust Friday, saying the search operation was still ongoing as more corpses were expected to be recovered.
The corpses recovered had floated to the shore of River Niger near where the ghastly accident occurred.
Yusuf lamented over the authority’s poor equipment for rescue mission.
He said that the authority had the expertise for rescue operation and appealed to the Kebbi State Government to assist the authority with water boats in order to improve on their operation capacity.
“So far 76 corpses have been recovered. We always blame the boat operators for overloading and using of old boats.”
The Police in Niger had confirmed hours earlier that 26 bodies have so far been recovered after the boat with 150 passengers capsized in Tungan Mairakumi village of Borgu Local Government Area of the state.
The Police Commissioner in the state, Mr Adamu Usman, who confirmed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Minna, however, said that 26 other passengers had been rescued.
“We are still searching for the remaining 98 passengers.
“On May 26 at about 11.18hrs, one Alhaji Garba Wara of Malale village, reported at Marine Police station Kainji that a boat belonging to one Alhaji Dangoma of Malale village conveying 150 passengers capsized on River Niger.
“A joint team of Marine Police/local fishermen was dispatched for search and rescue.
“Preliminary investigation showed that the boat took off from Tungan Mairakumi village with 150 passengers on board on its way to Wara market in Kebbi.
“The boat capsized around Tungan Na-Ilo village and so far 26 persons were rescued and rushed to General hospital in Wara Local Government Area of Kebbi.
“So far 26 passengers were rescued, 26 others died. We are still searching for the remaining of 98 passengers,’’ Usman said.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari described the news of the capsizing of a boat in Ngaski Local Government Area of Kebbi State as devastating, offering his heartfelt condolences to the families of those affected by this tragedy.
At least 156 are feared dead, even as the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) reports that they are missing.
But the President notes that from media reports, there are indications that the boat was overloaded and there is no official confirmation on the number of casualties.
While 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, a statement from his office said.
NIWA declared 156 persons missing in the boat mishap which occurred in Kebbi State on Wednesday.
Mr Yusuf Birma, NIWA area manager in Yauri Kebbi State, disclosed that “the boat (was) carrying 180 passengers with 30 Bajaj motorcycles. The victims were going to a market in Malele in Borgu local government area of Niger state from Kebbi and the incident happened just one hour into their trip.
“We are still rescuing the victims; the mishap occurred as a result of overloading. The boat capacity is not up 180 passengers it carried, as we speak, only 20 people have been rescued alive, four dead confirmed while the remaining 156 people are still missing and they are believed to be underwater.
“The boat involved is a wooden boat which is old and are very weak but this people will not listen when we sensitised them to reduce the number of passengers they are carrying with the boat.”
▪︎ Additional reports by NAN, Daily Trust