A canoe has capsized at Tungar-Gegero in Jega Council of Kebbi State, leaving no fewer than eight people, comprising women and children, dead.
Confirming the incident to newsmen yesterday in Birnin Kebbi, Chairman of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Alhaji Sani Dododo, said the incident occurred about 10.30 a.m.
“A middle-aged man was trying to ferry 10 women and children across the river to a naming ceremony. They had crossed to the other bank of the stream successfully. But on their way back, the canoe capsized and all the occupants drowned,” he added.
Dododo, who said the operator was able to save two women, added that the remaining eight, including children, all drowned.
He said the agency was able to recover four corpses – three adults and a baby girl – and that search for the remaining bodies was still on.
In another development, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over the flood that took a number of lives, submerged hectares of farmlands and houses, destroying farm produce and personal effects.
“I am particularly sad over this incident because it is a setback to our efforts to boost local rice production as part of measures to stop food importation.
“Kebbi is the focal point of our policy to produce rice locally as part of this administration’s commitment to agricultural revival, which suffered relative neglect in favour of food importation.
“With the loss of six lives and still counting, thousands of hectares of land flooded and estimated economic losses of more than N1 billion by rice farmers in Kebbi, we face a major setback in our efforts to boost local food production,” he said.
While sympathising with the bereaved families and farmers affected by the devastating flood, Buhari promised to work closely with the Kebbi government to bring relief to the victims.
Relatedly, victims of the recent flood in Donadda community of Lau Council of Taraba State are now going cap in hand to the government, corporate organisations and public-spirited individuals.
The recent flood, caused by several hours of heavy downpour, did not only wash away farmlands and crops; it also led to the destruction of domestic animals and other valuables.
Why crying for help, the victims said they had been living from hand to mouth since the disaster.
Some told newsmen that their calls for help became necessary following the hardship the disaster heralded on the people.