At least 40 wedding party members drown in Nigeria

1/04/2008 - 17:34

By Mike Oboh

BAGWAI, Nigeria (Reuters) - At least 40 members of awedding party drowned in a river after the dug-out boat theywere travelling in capsized in the northwestern Nigerian stateof Kano, survivors and officials said on Tuesday.

The victims, mostly women and children, were escorting abride from Bagwai district to the remote village of Badau whentheir boat sank late on Monday, they said.

"We cannot for now ascertain the number of deaths, thoughwe gathered from survivors that not less than 40 people mayhave lost their lives in the accident," Bagwai council chairmanAbdulhamid Idris said.

The lone female survivor, Habiba Bagwai, said 22 women, 15children and three men died. The boat sank after it had ferriedthe first batch of members of the wedding party across theriver.

"I lost three of my children, Abdullahi 17 months, Aishafour years and Ishaku six years," Bagwai told reporters fromher hospital bed.

Rescuers said they saved three of the travellers andrecovered nine bodies from the river.

Nigeria's waterways and roads are plagued by frequentdeadly accidents. Police usually blame such accidents onoverloading, speeding and poorly maintained vehicles.

In October, at least 30 people drowned in a river in theremote northwestern state of Kebbi after two dug-out boats theywere travelling in collided head-on and went up in flames.

One of the boats was laden with petroleum products when itcollided with the other boat which was carrying traders whowere returning from a village market in Dandi district.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say onthe top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/ )

(Writing by Tume Ahemba)

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