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Dozens of people were missing in Kebbi State yesterday after a boat ferrying more than160 passengers sank in the Niger River.
The boat left Niger State and was heading to Kebbi when it split and sank, the administrative head of Ngaski district, Abdullahi Buhari Warah, said.
“A rescue operation is underway, but only 22 survivors and one dead body has been recovered.” We are talking of around 140 passengers still missing,” a local official said.
The BBC Hausa Service reported that the incident took place yesterday around 10 a.m. The boat was ferrying passengers, including men, women and children.
Efforts were still being made to rescue the victims.
According to the BBC Hausa Service, Warah, who visited the scene to monitor the rescue operation, said it was a tragedy.
The Chairman of Warrah Local Government Council, Alhaji Abdullahi Haruna, confirmed the incident to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Haruna said the accident happened at about 11 a.m.
The chairman however, said 22 people who wore live jackets had been rescued from the mishap.
He assured that rescue search was ongoing, with a view to saving the lives of those missing.
The spokesman of the state Police Command, DSP Nafiu Abubakar, also confirmed the development, saying he will make public their findings.
An eyewitness had earlier told NAN on phone that the boat took off from Loko in Niger State with over 150 passengers.
The source said about 20 people had been rescued, including a baby boy, whose mother was yet to be found.
According to the source, majority of the rescued passengers were confirmed to be residents of Warrah town.
“We are afraid that many people may have died from this mishap, because according to report, the boat took off with over 150 persons and many are still missing.”
The source said many people came to the town from Niger State in search of their relations and loved ones.
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed sadness over the boat mishap that claimed several lives in Kebbi State.
Describing it as devastating, the President, in a statement his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, offered his condolences to families of victims.
The statement reads: “President Buhari has 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.
“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.”