…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
A wooden boat carrying over 250 people capsized on the Niger River in Kwara state, northern-central Nigeria.
The passengers were returning home from a late-night wedding when the boat collided with a log, causing it to split.
This incident resulted in a significant loss of life, particularly among women and small children.
Fatalities and Survivor Accounts:
According to search and rescue teams, efforts to locate survivors were halted on Thursday.
Ibrahim Mohammed, one of the survivors, recounted how they managed to bring some children to shore.
However, some women refused to leave their children behind and, tragically, drowned in the process.
Mohammed, who rescued three children, also suffered the heartbreaking loss of nine child relatives.
Burial and Search Conclusion:
Local villagers decided to end the search operation on Thursday afternoon and conducted burials near the river in accordance with local customs.
Out of the estimated 200 passengers, at least 144 survived the accident.
Mohammed Ibrahim Liman, the chair of the Pategi district where the incident occurred, revealed that the boat was overcrowded, with over 250 people on board.
A significant number of casualties, including 68 victims, were from a single village.
Common Transportation Methods and Safety Concerns:
Boats serve as a common mode of transportation in Pategi and other water-surrounded communities in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, accidents involving boats are frequent and often attributed to overloading and the use of poorly maintained vessels.
In a similar incident in May, a boat capsizing claimed the lives of 15 individuals, including children.
The recent tragedy ranks among the deadliest in Nigeria in recent years.
Calls for Improvements and Government Response:
As the affected villagers mourned their losses, they urged authorities to enhance road infrastructure in the area as a safer means of transportation.
They emphasized the need for government intervention and assistance.
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has expressed his commitment to addressing challenges in inland water transportation and ensuring compliance with safety standards.
Kwara state Governor Abdul Rahman Abdul Razaq, after visiting the Pategi district, announced plans to implement additional safety guidelines for water transportation.
The governor’s office also stated that the state would distribute at least 1,000 life jackets to support safe travel on water.
Tragedy and Global Context:
The boat accident in Kwara state occurred just days before another devastating boat disaster off the Greek coast, where a migrant vessel sank, leaving hundreds of individuals missing and feared dead.
This unfortunate event highlights the recurring nature of boat accidents worldwide and the urgent need for improved safety measures to protect lives.
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