At least 100 dead after boat transporting wedding guests capsizes on river Niger

A passenger boat transporting hundreds of people after a wedding capsized earlier today on the river Niger, drowning at least 100 of them. Many more are still missing.

The cause of the incident is still being established. Local police said part of the vessel collapsed, causing it to flood and then capsize. But the Emir of Patigi told journalists that river waves overtook the boat and forced it to crash into a tree that had washed into the river, causing the boat to capsize.

In lieu of more information, the BBC describes context that suggests what might have happened.

People who live in the villages bordering the River Niger – which runs through the centre of the country – often use the river as it can be faster than roads, which are often poorly maintained and dangerous, due to the presence of kidnapping gangs. However boat operators often overload their rickety vessels in a bid to earn more money.

76 people were killed in a similar accident two years ago, near Ogbaru in Anambra state.

A local person, Afam Ogene, told Reuters that because flooding had destroyed the major road linking eight communities to the rest of the area, some people had to travel by boat. Of the vessel that capsized, he said it was locally made and had the capacity to carry more than 100 people. He added that the boat's engine had failed and it was overpowered by waves shortly after it launched.