Monday, August 06, 2007

Toll From Capsized Sierra Leone Boat Rises to 10 Dead, 45 Missing

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone: The death toll from the capsizing of an overloaded boat in rough seas off Sierra Leone's northern coast has risen to 10, with 45 other passengers missing and feared dead, a naval commander said Saturday.

Lt. Cmdr. Mohammed Mansaray of the Sierra Leone navy, said 72 people were aboard the vessel when it overturned Thursday near the mouth of the Little Scarcies River at Bailo Point along this West African nation's Atlantic Ocean coast.

Local fishermen and navy search teams rescued 17 survivors and recovered 10 corpses by the end of Friday, Mansaray said. The remaining 45 passengers were missing and feared dead, he said.

"After 72 hours we do not believe there will be any more survivors," Mansaray told The Associated Press in the capital, Freetown. "We have asked the local fishermen to deploy their fishing chains to recover anymore dead bodies."

On Friday, Mansaray had put the toll at two dead. Then, he had declined then to say how many people were aboard.

Since the accident occurred, details have been sketchy and reports have varied widely over the number of passengers aboard. Mansaray attributed the confusion to boat operators who he said often fail to list all passengers, especially carrying small quantities of luggage � as opposed to commercial traders carrying huge bags of rice or other goods.

Mansaray said many died because no lifejackets were aboard the boat.

Among the survivors were the boat's captain, he said.

STANDARD TIMES PRESS SIERRA LEONE Toll From Capsized Sierra Leone Boat Rises to 10 Dead, 45 Missing PAGE