21 feared dead in Nigeria boat capsize: Emergency services

Twenty-one people are missing, feared dead, after their boat capsized in northern Nigeria, emergency services and rescue workers said on Tuesday.

The vessel, carrying 30 traders and their wares, overturned in high winds on a river in the Isa district of northwestern Sokoto state during a heavy downpour on Saturday.

Eight passengers were rescued and the body of one of the passengers was recovered, Suleiman Karim, of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), told AFP.

“The boat was overloaded with goods and passengers,” he said, adding that rescue operations were being hampered by strong currents in the swollen river.

A rescue worker and a local diver involved in the search said the 21 passengers were believed to have died.

“We may call off the search anytime soon because it is obvious the people must have drowned,” said the diver, who gave his name only as Lawwali.

Capsizes happen frequently in Nigeria due to overcrowding and inadequately maintained vessels, particularly during the annual rainy season.

In September last year, 56 people drowned after an overloaded boat carrying more than 100 traders from Niger capsized in the Bagudu area of Kebbi state, also in northwest Nigeria.

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