Officials said the plane carried at least 150 passengers, most of whom are from the state of KB and believed to be traders.
Abdullahi Buhari, president of Nagaski Local Government Area of Kebbi State, where the incident took place, told CNN late Thursday that the death toll had risen to 53, and the number was expected to rise.
Buhari said that 22 people have been rescued and discharged after being in the hospital.
Earlier on Thursday, Abbas Rabiu Kamba, acting executive director of the Emergency Management Agency of Kebbi, told CNN that they had so far recovered 47 bodies – 20 men and 22 women – from the water. Kamba said that it is not yet clear how many children have died.
Niger State Police spokesman Wassiu Abiodun said the boat had left from Borgu district in Niger state and was heading towards a market in neighboring KB before getting into trouble early Wednesday.
Authorities are describing overloading as the cause of the accident, with police spokesmen warning boat operators to follow safety precautions and prevent their boats from overloading at over capacity.