200 missing in Sierra Leone boat tragedy

Around 200 people are missing feared drowned after a boat sank off the coast of Sierra Leone, the government said on Thursday.

200 missing in Sierra Leone boat tragedy

Around 200 people, including a large number of children, are missing feared drowned after a boat sank off the coast of Sierra Leone, the government said on Thursday.

At least 241 passengers were on board the vessel when it sank on Tuesday night southeast of the capital Freetown, but the overall number could be more than 300, said deputy transport minister Osmond Hanciles.

Ten bodies have been recovered, including two Thursday morning, according to Alfred Yanka, a senior local official in the coastal village of Shenge, near where the boat sank.

Police said 37 people had been rescued.

Hundreds of relatives rushed from Waterloo, the boat's departure point 12 km (8 miles) from Freetown, to Tombo in search of survivors.

"I only saw my son two months ago when he left Tombo by a boat for holidays. Yesterday I received from his mother news about the shock death of our son," Ali Toure, father of 11 year-old John Turay, told Reuters.

Most passenger and fishing boats that usually ply the waters off Sierra Leone have remained on shore due to poor weather.

West Africa is currently being battered by the seasonal rains and storms that have killed about 160 people on land and displaced tens of thousands more, prompting governments across the region to seek international assistance.


Agencies

Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2009, 10:22
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