ABUJA, Nigeria – An overloaded boat carrying passengers fleeing flooding in southeastern Nigeria capsized and days later 76 people are still missing and feared dead, emergency services said Monday.
Many women and children were among those trying to escape flooding in the Ogbaru council area of Anambra on Friday, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said.
“Eighty-five of them packed into a single boat and the weight overpowered the boat,” said Godwin Thickman, the regional chief of the agency for disaster relief. He said the boat could not move freely because it hit sunken trees and the roofs of houses.
“It capsized and only nine survived. The remaining 76 were yet to be found,” he said.
Nigeria is experiencing its worst flooding in a decade, mainly due to the release of excess water from the Lagdo dam in neighboring Cameroon and unusual rainfall. More than 300 people have died in the floods this year.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has urged rescue officials to make every effort to account for the missing passengers. However, rescue officials have not found any additional survivors in the past two days, suggesting there is little chance of survival for many of the missing.