CALABAR, Nigeria, March 19 (Xinhua) -- A total of nine dead bodies were recovered as of Tuesday night from a boat mishap which occurred in the remote town of Oron in southeast Nigeria's Cross River State, according to Yushau Shuaib, spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
In a text message sent to Xinhua, Shuaib said Nigerian rescuers have been working assiduously to recover more bodies after a boat capsized at 40 nautical miles off the coast of Calabar, capital of Cross River State.
Only two survivors of the incident are currently receiving treatment at the University Teach Hospital in Calabar, he added, but declined to give total number of casualties recorded in the boat mishap.
"The destination of the boat is yet to be ascertained, though it was suspected to have originated from Congo. Rescue mission continues," he said in the short text message.
Head of the Cross Rivers State Emergency Management Agency David Akate also confirmed the incident, but insisted he was not sure of the death toll.
"Only a young boy and woman were rescued by local divers," he said.
However, local residents in the area, who said a lot of wooden boats operate on the Oron waters, expressed fears that more than 160 people may have died after the boat capsized.
Michael Ekpenyong, a fisherman in the area, said such incidents often occur on the Oron waters. "But no one can give the exact number of people who died in this incident until rescue operation is concluded," he added.
Lying on the Cross River, the predominant occupation of the people of Oron is fishing and farming.
The remote area also serves as route to people, majorly traders, who transport goods to other African countries including Gabon and Congo, among others.