154 PEOPLE FEARED DEAD IN KEBBI BOAT MISHAP
Reports says a total of 154 persons are still missing after the boat mishap in Kebbi State on Wednesday.
A heavily loaded boat had capsized about 10am on Wednesday, while heading to a village in Niger State from Kebbi in North-West.
There are fears that many of the victims would not be removed from the river alive considering the low pace of rescue efforts occasioned by poor equipment.
Brave Views gathered that the incident occurred in Ngaski Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
The wooden boat the people boarded, carried bags of sand for gold miners, motorcycles and other equipment as the locals were heading for a local market.
The rescue efforts saw authorities using out-dated equipment to bring out those trapped under the water, many local divers were seen using crude methods to search for the missing passengers, which include men, women and children.
In the meantime, the Area Manager of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in Yauri, Kebbi State, Mr Yusuf Birma, who confirmed the incident, hinted that it was caused by overloading and weak boat.
He said that four people had been confirmed dead, 20 rescued alive while 156 people are still missing and that rescue operation was still ongoing.
“The boat is 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 a few hours into their trip.
“We are still rescuing the victims and the mishap occurred as a result of overloading. The boat does not have the capacity to carry 180 passengers.156 people are still missing and they are believed to be underwater,” he said.
Speaking further on the cause of the mishap, Birma said that most of the boats being used by locals across riverine states were old.
He gave an insight into what transpired in the latest incident, saying that the overloaded and old boat hit a log while sailing.
“The boat involved is a wooden boat which is old and very weak but these people will not listen when we speak to them to reduce the number of passengers they carry”.
In a related development, the chairman of Ngaski LGA, Abdullahi Buhari Warra said the accident was fatal and pitiful, disclosing that five people, including two women, two men and a girl have already been buried.
The Chairman disclosed that those in the boat included artisanal gold miners, traders and some Nigeria Nationals, informing that more corpses were expected to be recovered today.
“As I am speaking to you now, there are many people in the river who are yet to be rescued…there is no hope of getting them alive,” he told one of our correspondents.
“In fact, many people have died and nobody can precisely know their number.
“We are able to rescue only 22 people who have been rushed to the Warra General Hospital for medical attention.
“In fact, we went to the main river in Wara town where there were people crying when they came out of the water.
“Someone who came out of the boat said there were many small children who drowned because there was no one to rescue them.
“Someone people from Zamfara State told me that there were eight members of the same family and they all drowned”.
He, however said it was not the fault of the Kebbi State authorities for overloading the ship and accused the people of refusing to wear life jackets.
“We are currently providing seven boats to the navy and other rescue workers to search for corpses and some survivors”.
Similarly, the Niger State Emergency Management Agency also confirmed the incident but noted that the incident did not happen in their state.