ABUJA, May 10 (Xinhua) -- At least 17 children have been confirmed dead and many others missing after an overloaded boat capsized in Nigeria's northwestern state of Sokoto, a local government official said on Wednesday.
Aliyu Dantani, head of the Shagari local government area of Sokoto, told Xinhua over phone that the incident happened on Tuesday when the boat, which was carrying dozens of teenagers to fetch firewood at a nearby bush, capsized in a river in the area.
The boat was overloaded, and the weight caused it to capsize in the middle of the river, Dantani said. Rescue operations started shortly after local authorities were informed.
According to the official, the bodies of 17 victims were recovered by local divers and buried Tuesday afternoon.
Dantani said many others were still missing, but he did not give a figure, as some passengers reportedly swam to safety while rescue operations were ongoing.
Boat accidents are common in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, especially in rural areas, where many people rely on water transportation for daily activities. Overloading and poor keeping of boats are frequently cited as the main reasons behind such incidents.