Spike in Nigeria boat accident death toll

2011-12-15 17:39

Lagos - Rescuers have recovered 26 bodies, including that of a 6-year-old, after an overloaded passenger boat capsized in southern Nigeria earlier this week, police said on Thursday.

"Twenty-six bodies, including that of a 6-year-old girl found this morning, have been recovered," said Ben Egwuegbulam, police spokesperson for Rivers state, where the accident occurred on Tuesday night.

The previous official death toll was 20.

Searches were continuing, with the boat believed to have had around 40 people on board at the time of the accident. Various figures have been given on the number of people rescued alive, but Egwuegbulam said it was eight.

A rescue official in the area said one of those rescued was a pregnant woman who gave birth shortly afterward.

The boat was travelling between an area called Eagle Island and Mgbuodohia of Rivers state in the Niger Delta, a vast swampy region in southern Nigeria. The delta is Nigeria's main oil-producing region.

Mgbuodohia community official Chima Amadi said the boat was the only reliable means of transport to central Port Harcourt, an oil industry hub and the main city in the area, because of the bad condition of roads.

Roads are notoriously bad in many parts of Nigeria, with infrastructure neglected despite the country's vast oil wealth.