President Muhammadu Buhari has mourned the victims boat which capsized on the Malale River in Borgu Local Government Area of Niger State.
Although the Presidency pegged it at Kebbi, reports suggest the tragedy occurred in Niger State.
Buhari in a statement issued on Wednesday by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, commiserated with the families of the victims.
More than 150 people were missing and feared drowned in northwest Nigeria after an overloaded boat ferrying passengers to a market sank in the Niger River, local officials said.
The boat was travelling between central Niger state and Wara in northwest Kebbi state when it went down, National Inland Waterways Authority local manager Yusuf Birma told reporters.
Reacting, President Buhari described the news of the capsizing as devastating, offering his heartfelt condolences to the families of those affected by this tragedy.
According to the President’s spokesman, there are indications that the boat was overloaded and there is no official confirmation on the number of casualties.
“While efforts are ongoing to recover more survivors, the President extends his gratitude to all those involved in the rescue efforts and wishes those injured from the accident quick recovery,” the statement partly read.
The passengers were said to be heading to a market in Malele in Borgu local government area of Niger state when the boat sank an hour into the journey.
Local district administrator Abdullahi Buhari Wara earlier blamed the accident on overloading as the boat was meant to ferry no more than 80 passengers.
Boat tragedies are common on Nigerian waterways mostly due to overcrowding, bad weather and lack of maintenance, but Wednesday’s toll would be one of the deadliest recent accidents.
“The vessel was also loaded with bags of sand from a gold mine,” he said.
Early this month 30 people drowned when an overloaded boat capsized in Niger state.
The boat ferrying 100 local traders split into two after hitting a stump during a storm as they were returning from a local market, according to emergency officials.
The Niger is West Africa’s main river running in a crescent through Guinea to Nigeria’s Niger Delta and is a key local trade route for some of the countries.