ABUJA, Nigeria – A boat overloaded with passengers fleeing flooding in southeastern Nigeria capsized, leaving 76 people still missing days later and feared dead, emergency officials said Monday.
Many women and children were among those trying to escape the floods in Ogbaru Local Government 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 emergency management agency. He said the boat could not move freely because it ran into submerged trees and rooftops.
“It capsized and only nine survived. The remaining 76 were yet to be found,” he said.
Nigeria is battling the worst floods in a decade, largely blamed on the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in neighboring Cameroon and unusual rainfall. More than 300 people have been killed this year by the floods.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has urged rescue officials to do everything they can to account for the missing passengers. However, rescue officials have not found any additional survivors over the past two days, suggesting there is little chance of survival for many of those missing.