LAGOS, Nigeria – Nigerian authorities have confirmed that at least 60 people have been killed in a boat accident on the Niger River and that it is also feared that 83 missing passengers have been killed.
The boat with more than 160 passengers, including many children and women, sank after hitting an object and breaking up on Wednesday while traveling along Nigeria’s largest river in the state of Kebbi, in the northwestern part of the country.
Emergency services workers continued the recovery on Friday. Bodies were transported from the team’s boat near the riverbank to a waiting ambulance.
According to Sani Dododo, chairman of the Kebbi State Emergency Management Agency, 55 bodies were recovered on Thursday to bring the death toll to 60 so far.
“We hope to get more bodies back on Friday,” he said, adding that he feared the 83 missing passengers would not be found alive.
Twenty-two passengers were rescued shortly after the crash, but no other person has been rescued alive since.
Among the deceased was a baby less than one year old.
The recovery efforts are slow because the river is currently high and moving fast, making conditions dangerous for divers and workers in boats, Dododo said.
It was unclear what caused the boat to break as it traveled from Nigeria’s Niger to the city of Wara in the state of Kebbi.
Boat accidents are common in Nigeria, especially on the Niger River, with causes such as congestion, the poor condition of many boats and debris underwater that regularly hit the vessels.
By Sam Olukoya