Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Nigeria boat capsize: Death toll rises to 106, leaving families devastated

The relative of victims of the boat disaster.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Cleared / AFP


The death toll from a Nigeria riverboat disaster rose to 106 people on Wednesday as rescue teams searched for more survivors after one of the country's deadliest waterway accidents in years.

The boat, carrying around 250 passengers travelling from a wedding ceremony, capsized in the early hours of Monday morning in north-central Kwara state, police and local officials said.

The accident was the latest boating tragedy in Nigeria, where river capsizes are common due to overloading, poor safety and heavy flooding in the rainy season.

More than half the victims came from one village, Ebu, and another 38 were from nearby Dzakan village.

"The incident was very sad, and it shocked the whole community," Mohammed Sallihu, 26, a relative of victims, explained.

"It affected almost everyone because the deceased have loved ones, families, friends, and colleagues, so it must affect them in one way or another."

Recurring issue

Kwara State police said one part of the wooden vessel collapsed where water entered the boat, which ultimately leading to it capsizing. Passengers tried to get help from people attending the wedding, but failed.

"All efforts to draw the attention of the villagers hosting the wedding ceremony for assistance by the persons in the boat proved abortive, leading to the deaths of about one hundred and six people," Kwara police spokesman Okasanmi Ajayi said.

On Tuesday, 103 people had been reported dead.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu offered his condolences to the families of the victims on Wednesday, and said his government would look to improve inland water transport safety.

"I am deeply saddened by the news of the tragic boat accident that claimed the lives of our people in Kwara State. That the victims were guests at a wedding ceremony made the unfortunate accident more painful," he said in a statement.

The Kwara State governor's office said the victims had been returning from a wedding ceremony in Kwara's Patigi district.

River travel is a popular form of transport in Nigeria, but accidents are also unfortunately common.

Last month, 15 children drowned, and two dozen others went missing after their overloaded boat capsized in northwest Sokoto State as they collected firewood.

Almost a year earlier, another 29 children from a nearby village drowned in the same river as they were also on a trip to gather firewood for their families.

During huge flooding in the rainy season last December, at least 76 people drowned when their boat sank in a swollen river in southeastern Anambra State.

Nigeria's waterways authority has tried in the past to prohibit nighttime sailing on rivers to prevent accidents and says overloading vessels is a crime, but crews often break regulations.

View more