Thirty people drowned when an overloaded boat capsized in central Nigeria’s Niger state, an emergency official told AFP Monday.
The boat, carrying 100 local traders, split in two after smashing into a stump during high winds on its return from a market on Saturday, said Ibrahim Audu Hussein, spokesman for the state’s emergency agency.
The accident occurred at Tijana village in Munya district.
“So far 30 bodies have been recovered and five are still missing,” Hussein said.
“Sixty-five passengers were rescued with the help of local divers.”
Heavy rains were hampering the search but divers were “braving the odds,” Hussein said.
Local media said some of the victims were people displaced by recent violence in the state.
President Muhammadu Buhari commended the emergency services and the divers for their response and urged Nigeria’s transportation authorities to beef up policing of safety regulations on the waterways.
Boat capsizes are common in Nigeria, mainly because of overcrowding and lack of maintenance, particularly in the annual rainy season.
Loss of life is typically high when these accidents occur as many boats do not carry sufficient lifejackets and few know how to swim.
Eighteen people including 15 young girls were killed in November last year when their canoe capsized in a river in northeast Nigeria.