At least 20 feared dead in Nigeria boat accident, officials say

By Ahmed Kingimi

MAIDUGURI (Reuters) – At least 20 people are feared dead in an accident involving two passenger boats travelling from Andoni to Bonny island in Nigeria’s coastal Rivers State, local officials said on Wednesday, the first such accident to hit the region this year.

Erastus Awortu, chairman of Andoni local government area, said the incident occurred on Tuesday night along the Andoni waterways.

“When we learned of the tragic development, we immediately dispatched our team to join the first responders on a rescue mission at the scene of the incident,” Awortu said in a statement, without providing further details about survivors.

Overcrowding and poor maintenance are responsible for most boat accidents on Nigerian waterways.

Last year, almost 200 people died in boat accidents across Nigeria. One such disaster in June killed more than 100 after an overloaded boat capsized in the north-central Niger State.

Rivers Governor Siminalayi Fubara, in a statement, expressed condolences to the affected families and pledged to “ensure that such threats against safe traveling on our sea routes are tackled.”

(Additional reporting by Ardo Hazzad; Writing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo; Editing by Christina Fincher)