By Ahmed Idris, Brinin Kebbi
No fewer than 200 persons were feared dead as a boat carrying artisanal miners, traders and some Nigerien nationals capsized in River Niger yesterday
Our correspondent gathered that the boat which was said to be over loaded with passengers and goods, was said to have taken off from Lokon Minna in Niger state to it destination in Warra, Kebbi state.
it was further learnt that only four corpses had so far been recovered at the time of filing this report, while18 persons were said to be rescued from the boat that had capsized at about 10 am in Tsohuwan Labata village in.Ngaski Local Government Area of Kebbi state.
The exact number of passengers on board could not be ascertained by our correspondent as eye witness accounts gave varying figures of 150 and 250.
They also gave conflicting figures of the number of passengers rescued, with some of them saying only one, was rescued while the others put the number at four.
Confirming the incident to newsmen, the Sarkin Samari of Warra, Adamu Umar Warra, lamented that almost every household in Warra had a member in the ill fated boat, noting that the boat that was carrying over 150 people capsized in the deepest part of the River Niger.
He said: “So far only four dead bodies were recovered while 18 others that were rescued had been rushed to the hospital for medical attention”.
He explained that the boat capsized in Tsohuwar Labata village, adding that the four recovered bodies were two male and two female.
“ There are 18 other passengers that have been rescued and are at present in the hospital receiving medication. Rescue mission is on course up to this moment.” he added.
Also speaking on the mishap, the Secretary of Kebbi State branch of Red Cross Society, Ibrahim Ngaski, said though, the number of passengers on board was yet to be ascertained, he noted that the information reaching them suggested that the boat was carrying about 250 passengers.
He added that majority of the passengers, were Artisanal miners and traders who, were coming from Niger State to Kebbi state saying, information at his disposal indicated that only one corpse was recovered while rescue mission was on going.
According to him, “absence of rescue equipment is what is one of the major impediments to the rescue operation. The information at hand said the boat was carrying about 250 people. Though, we are waiting to hear from our men who had since joined the rescue team. So far only one body was recovered.”