Dozens missing after Nigeria boat sinks with 160 on board

Dozens of people are missing in northwest Nigeria after an overloaded boat ferrying about 160 passengers sank in the Niger River, according to a local official.

The boat left central Niger state and was heading to northwest Kebbi state when it split and sank on Wednesday, Abdullahi Buhari Wara, administrative head of Ngaski district said.

“A rescue operation is under way but only 22 survivors and one dead body have been recovered,” Wara said. “We are talking of around 140 passengers still missing.”

Boat capsizings are common on Nigerian waterways mostly due to overcrowding and lack of maintenance, particularly in the annual rainy season.

Wara blamed the Kebbi accident on overloading as the boat was not meant to ferry more than 80 passengers.

The vessel was also loaded with bags of sand from a gold mine, the official said.

Early this month 30 people drowned when an overloaded boat capsized in central Niger state.

The boat ferrying 100 local traders split into two after hitting a stump during a storm as they were returning from a local market, according to emergency officials.

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