Lagos – High water levels caused by heavy flooding are hampering efforts to rescue people missing after a boat accident in southeast Nigeria, emergency services said on Sunday.
Many people were either missing or presumed dead while 15 others were rescued after an overloaded passenger boat capsized on the Niger river on Friday.
It took place near Umunnankwo in Anambra state. Twenty-nine of Nigeria’s 36 states have been struck by heavy flooding.
“The water level is very high and too risky for a smooth search and rescue operation,” Thickman Tanimu, the southeast coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.
He said the water level was more than one-tenth higher than during the serious flooding seen 10 years ago in the vast West African nation of more than 200 million people.
Our thoughts and prayers goes to all the flood victims in Lokoja. ❤️
Something should be done about this ??pic.twitter.com/3gAImca6sF
— Nigeria Stories (@NigeriaStories) October 6, 2022
He said NEMA had contacted the Nigerian Air Force to provide helicopters for the rescue operation.
Chukwudi Onyejekwe of Anambra State Emergency Management Agency said: “We have not found any more survivors apart from the 15, while many others are either missing or presumed dead,” he said.
Local media said 85 people were aboard the boat heading to the Nkwo market in Ogbakuba before it capsized.
“This development is still a shock to the government and good people of Anambra State. I sympathise with the families of people involved”, Anambra state governor Charles Soludo said in a statement late Saturday.
The governor urged residents of flood-ravaged areas to relocate, while adding that the government would provide relief to those affected by the disaster.
Boat accidents occur regularly in Nigeria because of overloading, speeding, poor maintenance and disregard of navigation rules.
Since the start of the rainy season, many regions of Nigeria have been devastated by floods.
More than 300 people have been killed and at least 100 000 made homeless in the country’s worst flooding in a decade, according to the emergency services.
Farmland and crops have also been washed away by floods, sparking fears of food shortages, famine and hunger in a country already struggling with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.