KADUNA, Nigeria – A boat carrying around 200 people capsized in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kebbi on Wednesday, although the number of casualties remains uncertain, a spokesperson for the state governor said.
Such incidents are not uncommon in Nigeria, with a history of overloading and poor maintenance and safety, although the number of passengers in Wednesday’s sinking of the boat means that dozens of lives have reportedly been lost.
“The boat was carrying around 200 passengers” from the neighboring country of Niger, said Yahaya Sarki, a media aide to the governor of Kebbi.
“Their locally made wooden boat capsized in the middle of the water,” he said. “The bodies are still being recovered. We cannot determine the number at this time.”
The boat capsized near Wara, Sarki said, referring to a town on the shores of Lake Kainji, part of the Niger River.
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Many passengers were returning from a recently discovered gold vein in Niger, said Qasimu Umar Wara, a resident of Wara town.
“They usually go there in the evening and return to Wara in the morning,” he said. “Most of them are small traders, food vendors and local miners.”