There were at least 150 passengers on board, most of whom are from Kebbi State and are believed to be traders, authorities said.
Abdullahi Buhari, Chairman of Ngaski Local Government Area of Kebbi State, where the incident occurred, told CNN late on Thursday that the death toll had risen to 53, with that number expected to rise.
Buhari added that 22 people had been rescued and that following a stay in hospital, they had been discharged.
Earlier on Thursday, Abbas Rabiu Kamba, Acting Executive Director for Kebbi’s Emergency Management Agency, told CNN that they had recovered 47 bodies — 20 men and 22 women — from the water so far. Kamba added that so far, it was unclear how many children had lost their lives.
Niger State police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said the boat had taken off from Borgu district in Niger State and was heading to a market in neighboring Kebbi before getting into difficulties early Wednesday.
Authorities are citing overloading as the cause of the accident, with the police spokesman warning boat operators to adhere to safety precautions and to stop overloading their boats beyond capacity.