It has been gathered that a child has died while three others are missing as a canoe with passengers caught fire in the Katcha Local Government Area of Niger State.
Daily Trust gathered that the boat, loaded with goods and traders took off from Katcha town, after the close of the weekly market when the engine went into flames, burning the entire canoe to ashes on Friday evening.
Sources said the canoe was heading to Zakanti, Danbo and other riverine communities in Kogi and Niger States with the traders and their goods.
A resident of Katcha town, Mallam Adamu Mohammed told our correspondent on the telephone, “The canoe had already loaded the passenger from Katcha weekly market, Niger State to Kogi State. Immediately the driver ignited the engine to take off, the engine went up in flames and all the passengers were confused.
“They started jumping into the water including women and children. Even some women with their babies threw them away. But luckily, since they hadn’t gone far from the point of takeoff, local divers started the rescue operations. That was what saved the situation, otherwise, it would have been catastrophic.”
Another eyewitness, Abdulmalik Adamu said the incident happened around 6 pm shortly after the canoe had loaded goods and traders to return to their villages from the Katcha popular markets on Friday, when the engine caught fire, forcing the passengers to scamper for safety.
Confirming the incident, the Chairman, Boat Operators in Katcha, Dangana Dambo said the canoe was burnt to ashes alongside goods worth millions of naira.
He said three children were yet to be accounted for, saying that local divers rescued some of the victims. Niger State Government was yet to react to the incident. Calls put across to the Public Relations Officer of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency went unanswered at the time of filing this report.