The majority of those who perished when a boat capsized in Nigeria’s north-central region were women and their children, survivors and local authorities told the Associated Press on Thursday as search efforts came to a conclusion. A total of 108 people were reported missing after the incident. According to survivors, the wooden boat was carrying more than 250 people when it collided with a tree trunk and shattered early Monday morning on the River Niger in the state of Kwara. The passengers had just returned home from a wedding that had taken place late into the night.
Ibrahim Mohammed, one of the survivors, revealed that they had transported children to shore, “but some of the women didn’t want to leave their children behind, and they drowned.” According to Mr. Mohammed, “the majority of the women on the boat were pregnant or had young children, and the majority of those who perished were women and young children.” He stated that he was able to save three children but that his family had lost a total of nine.
The search operation was terminated by the villagers on Thursday afternoon, and all of the victims were buried in the area close to the river in accordance with the traditions of the community, he continued.
At least 144 individuals escaped the disaster that occurred on the River Niger, which at 4,100 kilometres is one of the longest rivers in Africa. Mohammed Ibrahim Liman, the chairman of the Pategi district, which is where the catastrophe took place, stated that the boat had at least 250 people on board when it had only been designed to hold approximately 200 people.
“People rushed to help, but it was difficult to see the passengers because the river was so wide,” Liman told the Associated Press. He went on to say that 68 of the individuals who had passed away were from the same village.
Boats are a prevalent mode of transportation in Pategi, as well as in many other settlements in Nigeria that are located in close proximity to water. Accidents involving these boats occur frequently and can typically be traced back to overloading the vessels or using vessels that have not been properly maintained. A boat capsized in the month of May, taking the lives of 15 passengers, including children.
According to the officials, the tragedy that occurred on Monday was one of the bloodiest in Nigeria over the course of the past few years. Villagers, who are currently in a state of mourning, are pleading with the government to fix the roads in the area, as driving is the most common mode of transportation there.
“The lives that were lost were already gone. Muhammed Alhassan, who had six members of his family killed in the disaster, said that the government had to do everything that was within its ability to assist them. The Nigerian president, Bola Tinubu, made a pledge that his administration will look into the difficulties that are presented by river transportation in order to make certain that safety regulations are adhered to.
On Wednesday, the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq, made a visit to the Pategi district. While there, he announced that the state would implement additional safety rules for river travel.According to a statement that was released by the governor’s office, the governor was quoted as saying that “our immediate measure is to provide at least 1,000 life jackets to ensure safe travel on water.”