One person has been reported dead, while another sustained injuries after a canoe conveying 50 traders from Shiroro to Kwata Market in Zumba, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State capsized in the middle of Zumba River.
Daily Trust gathered that only six people out of the passengers have so far been rescued, and one was confirmed dead.
It was learnt that the accident occurred on Saturday afternoon.
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The Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Ibrahim Inga, confirmed the incident to Daily Trust but said he had not got the detail of the casualties.
Daily Trust however gathered that the search for remaining victims was still ongoing on Sunday morning.
The Sarkin Ruwa, Kwata-Zumba, Umar Isah, told our correspondent on the telephone that the engine of the canoe conveying the traders including women, children, cattle, dozens of goats, baskets of fish and farm produce tumbled in the middle of the river.
He confirmed that one of the passengers lost his life while 6 others were rescued alive, adding that 3 cattle, goats and other items were lost.
Isah said, “We could not immediately embark on rescuing the victims because we were afraid of the bandits. Around 10pm on Saturday, we were still searching for the victims. We later rescued seven victims, but one person lost his life while six others who were rescued unconscious were treated locally and they later regained their consciousness.
“Immediately the engine went off, we were informed that the canoe was sinking by the drivers. But we couldn’t get there in time because it will take over 30 minutes to get to where the canoe sunk. We have made several requests for speed boat from government.
“Sometimes, even when bandits attack communities in the hinterland and they call us here to bring canoes across from Zumba, we often find it difficult to render assistance using canoes because it takes 2 hours 30 minutes to cross from Zumba to Lakpma axis where bandits operate regularly. Even though we have about 50 canoes plying the river, they cannot serve any emergency purpose. But if we have speed boats, within 20 minutes, we can cross the river and rescue people either during banditry attacks or when canoes capsize.”
Daily Trust was told that bandits’ hideout was just a distance away from where the canoe capsized, the reason the local divers could not go to rescue the victims immediately for fear of attack.
A source who pleaded for anonymity said, “The security operatives in Zumba have speed boats but the reason they could not assist with their boat was the fear that if bandits see them, they may think that they came to fight them because where the canoe capsized is just a few distance away from a well known hideout of bandits. And local divers could not go there in the night for fear of bandits. So, search for other victims continue this morning (Sunday).”