Lagos – Many people were missing and 15 had been rescued after an over-loaded passenger boat capsized in southeast Nigeria, emergency services said on Saturday.
The accident on Friday occurred on the Niger river near Umunnankwo in Anambra state, an area devastated by floods.
“It’s not clear how many people boarded the ill-fated boat at the time of the mishap,” Chukwudi Onyejekwe of the State Emergency Management Agency told AFP.
“We have rescued 15 people while many are missing”, he said.
He said no dead had so far been recovered, but added that the search and rescue operation was ongoing.
Local media however said 85 people had boarded the boat at the Onukwu bridge, and were heading to the Nkwo market in Ogbakuba before it capsized.
Boat accidents are common in Nigeria because of over-loading, speeding, poor maintenance and disregard of traffic rules.
Since the start of the rainy season, many regions of Nigeria have been devastated by floods.
More than 300 have been killed and at least 100 000 made homeless in the country’s worst incidents since 2012, according to the emergency services.
Thousands of farmlands and crops have also been washed away by floods, sparking fear of food shortage, famine and hunger in a country already struggling with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.