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76 Killed in Boat Accident While Escaping Floodwaters in Nigeria

Nigeria flooding
Image courtesy National Emergency Management Agency

Published Oct 10, 2022 8:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has directed an immediate review of ferry and boat safety protocols following a boat accident in the southeastern state of Anambra that killed 76 people.

The overloaded boat, which was reportedly carrying 85 persons, capsized Friday following rising floods in Ogbaru area of the state. Emergency agencies confirmed a death toll of 76 in the accident.

The flooding is severe enough that it has created a new tragedy for the families of the deceased. "Some people whose family members have died in the boat accident are wondering how to bury the bodies because there is no dry land in their area," former resident Precious Umeh told the BBC. 

Following the tragedy, the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority and the National Emergency Management Agency embarked on rescue and recovery missions, although efforts are being impeded by raging floods.

The president directed all other rescue and relief agencies in the country to rush to the site to help in the operation and also directed relevant agencies to review the safety protocols on inland waterways, ferries and boats to avoid such accidents in the future.

The boat tragedy is the latest in a series of accidents involving boats, which are often overloaded and poorly maintained, a common occurrence on Nigeria’s waterways. The accidents are more frequent during the rainy season. Casualties often occury due to lax safety standards, speeding, overcrowding and limited regard for maritime traffic rules.

“I pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased and for everyone’s safety, as well as the well-being of the family members of the victims of this tragic accident,” said President Buhari.

Over 300 people in Nigeria have died and 100,000 have been displaced in recent flooding, which emergency services described as the worst flooding since 2012. Anambra is one of the 29 states out of 36 in the country that have experienced unprecedented flooding this year.

In May last year, a total of 150 people died in a severe boat accident, and another 15 people died in July this year in yet another tragedy.