One week after scores of people died in a boat mishap in Niger State, another boat accident has occurred in the state causing the death of at least 18 people.
The Niger Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) said 18 persons died in the boat mishap which occurred on Thursday on River Niger at Kokoli Village, Agwarra Local Government Area of Niger.
Mohammed Shaba, the Special Adviser to Governor Babangida Aliyu in charge of NSEMA, made this known to News Agency of Nigeria in a telephone interview in Minna on Saturday.
Mr. Shaba said that the boat was conveying 80 traders and their children to Kokoli Village after the weekly Thursday market in Ulakami Village when the accident occurred around 4 p.m.
"The boat reportedly broke into two parts at the middle of the river and the boat, with all the passengers and its driver, sank.
"The most touching aspect of the tragic story was that a family lost six daughters in the accident.
"We have so far recorded the death of 16 women and two men; we have recovered 15 bodies from the river and they have been given mass burial by the river bank," he said.
Mr. Shaba said that efforts are underway to recover the three remaining bodies from the river with the help of local swimmers in the area," he said.
He, however, said that the state government was planning to deal with the recurrence of such tragedies via the enforcement of the regulation on the use of life jackets by boat and ferry passengers.
"The government will also ensure strict adherence to the rules and regulations governing water transportation," he added.
Umar Ibrahim, one of the persons who survived the boat accident, said that they were in the middle of the 10-km journey when the boat suddenly broke into two parts.
Mr. Ibrahim said that he was able to rescue about 10 women and children, adding that his efforts had gone a long way to reduce the casualty figure.
Mohammed Garba, the Village Head of Kokoli, confirmed that the village lost 18 women and children, adding that they could not swim a long distance after the accident.
He said that a total of 58 passengers had so far been rescued by local swimmers.
Richard Oguche, the Police Public Relations Officer in Niger, confirmed the accident, adding that the police had dispatched its Marine personnel to the area to assist in the recovery of the remaining passengers who drowned.
A similar boat incident happened in the same locality on September 27 leading to the death of over 42 people.