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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Wedding guests among at least 103 killed in boat accident in Nigeria

The 2,600-mile Niger is the main river in West Africa.

By Elian Peltier and Ismail Alfa

More than 100 people died, including many who were returning from a wedding ceremony, after a riverboat transporting them capsized earlier this week in Nigeria, according to residents and local police.

The boat was sailing on the Niger River in the western state of Kwara early Monday morning, according to a police spokesperson, Okasanmi Ajayi, who said that more than 100 people had been rescued and that the search was ongoing.

“The boat capsized in complete darkness, and it wasn’t until hours later that we were alerted,” Ajayi said. The death toll stood at 103 as of Tuesday evening and was likely to rise, he added.

Riverboat accidents are a recurring issue in Nigeria, a West African nation where overloading, lax safety regulations, the absence of life jackets and poor maintenance often lead to deadly incidents. Nighttime sailing is outlawed across the country, but the ban remains poorly enforced.

Authorities had yet to determine the cause of the accident Monday, Ajayi said. Among the victims were several families, including children, according to testimonies from local residents.

Ibrahim Hassan, a resident of the village of Ebbu, where many of the wedding guests were from, said the area experienced heavy rainfall Monday. One family that Hassan knows lost seven children, with two others still missing as of Tuesday night, he said in a telephone interview.

“We lost a lot of people, including women and children,” Hassan added. “Our community will never be the same again.”

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