At least 43 people, mostly Beninese, are “missing” after the sinking of a canoe overloaded on the Niger, on the border of the two countries, a common tragedy on this long river crossed by hundreds of canoes each day.
“Sixty-two have been saved from the waters and, according to the number of shoes retrieved, it is estimated that there are forty-three others missing in this accident occurred early Wednesday on the Niger River,” said AFP the mayor, Oumarou Hassane, who is near the scene of the tragedy. The canoe, aboard which was “a hundred merchants Beninese and Nigeriens”, sank Wednesday around 06H00 (O5H00 GMT) “under the overload” and following “a gust of wind”. In strong flood at the beginning of the month, Niger had overflowed its bed ten days ago causing significant damage to vegetable crops. The flow had slowed down but its level remained high.
The canoe carrying “a large shipment of grain” had left the Beninese town of Gorou-Béri in the direction of the Ouna market in Niger. The “majority” of the passengers are Beninese but Falmeye nationals in Niger have said that relatives have also boarded the boat, he said. – A hundred deaths in 2017 – The research conducted by first-aid workers from both countries, supported by gendarmerie stars, foresters and traditional fishermen have not given anything and continued Thursday, he assured. An official of the gendarmerie of Niger told Nigerian public radio that the sinking of the boat had occurred “some 200 meters from its destination”.
In Benin, Moussa Mouhamadou, prefect of Alibori (north) gave a close assessment on Radio Benin. “In terms of balance sheet, we can remember that there were 64 survivors.We found on the site about forty pairs of shoes so we made a link certainly with the missing persons”. “Right after the sinking, the sailors (navy) who have a detachment in Karimama in connection with the Republican police and fishermen riparian of the Niger River started the excavations.We obtained a reinforcement made up of firefighters who left Cotonou very early this morning, they will arrive during the day, “he said.” The survivors have been home since last night and they are doing well. Medical and psychological care is assured, “concluded the prefect.Ships wrecks, often overloaded are common in the waters of Niger while many operators ignore the safety standards.The navigation is” often entrusted to teenagers, “a Nigerian security source told AFP in October 2017.
At least 17 people had been drowned in October 2017 and 26 had” disappeared “after the sinking of a boat carrying some 60 passengers sailing from the north-west. from Nigeria to neighboring Niger In September 2017, 56 people perished in the sinking of an overloaded boat carrying 150 passengers, mostly Nigerian traders, in the state of Kebbi. Cross-border trade, including livestock and grain, is highly developed between Niger, Benin and Nigeria. Only three bridges cross the river on the 550 km of its course in Nigerian territory. In September, hundreds of goods trucks had been stranded at the border, with the Gaya Bridge, located on the road between Niger and the Beninese port of Cotonou, having been badly damaged after torrential rains.