Africa

Nigeria-Gabon boat capsize: Survivors found

  • 21 March 2013
  • From the section Africa
Kieve Sani
Kieve Sani survived by clinging to a gas cylinder

Twenty-nine people have been rescued after a boat carrying about 130 people from Nigeria to Gabon sank, rescue officials say.

The vessel was initially said to have been carrying 160 people but officials say the real number was slightly lower.

There are unconfirmed reports that some of those on board were illegal migrants looking for work in oil-rich Gabon.

Such trips on wooden boats last for days, with little concern for safety, and accidents are said to be common.

The first two survivors were found clinging to a gas cylinder.

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One of them, Kieve Sani, 27, from Togo told the AFP news agency that four people had originally been holding on to the cylinder but two, including the captain, had been unable to retain their grip.

"As time went by [the captain] could not continue and told us he was going," Mr Sani said from hospital in Calabar.

The head of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, Vincent Aquah, said a further 27 survivors were in the remote town of Oron in Akwa Ibom state, where the boat had picked up more passengers after setting off from Benin on Friday.

It capsized about 40 nautical miles (74km) offshore, officials say.

Mr Aquah said only nine bodies had been recovered so far but a local doctor told Reuters news agency he had received 45 bodies.

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