A boat conveying over 50 passengers and their goods to Yauri town for commercial activities has reportedly capsized, allegedly killing no fewer than 40 persons in the River Niger.

The incident which occured in the Yauri Local Government Area of Kebbi State on Monday, was said to have been caused by strong currents while the passengers were aboard.

It was gathered that at about 1pm, 10 people had been rescued alive by local divers while 40 others were still missing.

Newsmen also gathered that the boat which capsized at about noon was coming from Kasabo in Agura Local Government in Niger State to the weekly market in Yauri, Kebbi state.

The incident added to the growing number of lives lost to boat accidents across the country in recent times.

Chairman of Yauri LGA, Bala Yauri, who confirmed the development to journalists said the incident has left the people of the local government in deep sorrow.

While noting that efforts are currently underway by local divers to locate the corpses of about 40 passengers who drowned in the river, the local government chairman said it is a difficult search due to the high water level and strong currents as a result of the rainy season.

He said, “from the information I gathered, more than fifty persons were involved in the accident while some of them escaped but as of now that I am talking to you, over thirty of them as still trapped in the river.

“We have mobilised the local divers to try and locate bodies of the victims for proper evacuation and possibly befitting burials in accordance with Islamic rights.

“The boat as I heard carried passengers who are mostly traders from either Niger State or Kebbi State alongside foodstuffs for sell before the unfortunate incident”

Also speaking, a witness of the incident, Alhaji Sani Yauri, confirmed that the accident was caused by a heavy wind which resulted in the driver losing control of the boat.

“I was there when the incident happened, it was as a result of heavy wind which resulted in the driver of the boat losing control and it capsized immediately ”

Meanwhile, as at press time, comments on the incident had not been obtained from the spokesman of the Nigerian Police Force in the state, DSP Nafiu Abubakar.

But the Kebbi state governor, Nasiru Idris who paid a condolence visit to Yauri on Monday, prayed for the quick recovery of those who sustained injuries and prayed to Allah to put an end to recurence of the incident.

Boat accidents are frequent on Nigeria’s poorly regulated waterways due to overloaded boats, lack of maintenance and poor safety, particularly in the annual rainy season when rivers and lakes swell and flood.

In Northeastern Adamawa state, emergency officials had reported that 10 people drowned two days ago while three went missing when a boat ferrying traders overturned in a lake.

Similarly in September, no fewer than 936 people were reported to have died in different boat accidents in the last three and half years, largely due to unregulated waterways.