KADUNA, Nigeria – A boat that capsized about 200 people in northwestern Nigeria’s Kebbi state on Wednesday, although the number of casualties remains unclear, a state governor spokesman said.
Such incidents are not uncommon in Nigeria due to congestion, inadequate maintenance and safety. However, due to the number of passengers when the boat went down on Wednesday, dozens of lives were feared.
“The boat carried about 200 passengers,” said Yahaya Sarki, a media advisor to the governor of Kebbi.
“Your locally made wooden boat capsized in the middle of the water,” he said. “The bodies are still being recovered. We cannot find the number for the time being.”
The boat capsized near Wara, Sarki said, referring to a town on the banks of Lake Kainji, which is part of Niger.
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Many of the passengers were returning from a newly discovered gold vein in Niger, said Qasimu Umar Wara, a resident of the city of Wara.
“They usually go there in the evening and return to Wara in the morning,” he said. “Most of them are petty traders, grocery sellers, and local miners.”