Boat capsizes amid floods in southeast Nigeria; 76 missing

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In this photo released by National Emergency Management Agency, a woman cries as she stand on a flooded street following a boat accident in Anambra, Nigeria, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. Seventy-six people are missing after a boat capsized in a flooded community in Nigeria's southeast Anambra state, emergency officials told the Associated Press on Monday. (National Emergency Management Agency via AP)

ABUJA – A boat overloaded with passengers fleeing flooding in southeastern Nigeria capsized and 76 people remain missing days later and are feared dead, emergency officials said Monday.

Many women and children were among those trying to escape the floodwaters in the Ogbaru council 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 head of the emergency management agency. He said the boat could not move freely because it ran into submerged trees and the roofs of houses.

"It capsized and only nine survived. The remaining 76 were yet to be found,” he said.

Nigeria is battling its worst floods in a decade blamed mainly on the release of excess water from 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 all they can to account for the missing passengers. Rescue officials, though, have not found any additional survivors over the last two days, suggesting there is little chance of survival for many of those missing.