29 Survivors So Far In Nigeria Boat Sinking

Twenty-nine people, including two who survived by clinging to a cooking gas cylinder, have been rescued after a boat capsized off Nigeria last week with an estimated 128 people on board, an emergency official said on Thursday.
The boat set off on Friday from Nigeria's neighbour Benin, overloaded with passengers who had hoped to find work in Gabon, said the head of Cross Rivers State Emergency Management Agency, Vincent Aquah, citing survivor accounts.

The vessel had stopped at the Nigerian port of Oron to collect more passengers but two hours after returning to sea the engine began taking on water.

The captain told passengers to pray, telling them "'we are in serious trouble'", according to Aquah's account.

As the boat began to sink, passengers jumped into the water, with the captain and three others grabbing hold of the floating cylinder.

"But after some hours, the captain and another passenger, a woman, could no longer hold on and fell into the water," Aquah explained.

A 27-year-old man from Togo and a 14-year-old girl from Benin managed to continue clinging to the makeshift raft.

They said that as they drifted, they saw a flame coming from an offshore oil field operated by the Chinese firm Addax.

A foreign oil worker on the platform who spotted them dispatched a boat to rescue the two, said Aquah.

"We have 29 survivors so far from the boat accident," he told AFP, adding that the total number of bodies recovered so far remained at nine.

There were previous indications that the boat had originated from Congo-Brazzaville, but Aquah insisted those accounts were inaccurate.

The vessel is believed to have capsized 40 miles (60 kilometres) off the coast of the city of Calabar in southern Nigeria, the capital of Cross Rivers state.

Aquah specified that two of the survivors had been brought to Calabar, while 27 others were in Oron in neighbouring Akwa Ibom state.

The rescue operation began on Sunday and "the search for the remaining passengers is still on," Aquah said, adding that the wreckage of the ship had not yet been located.

In July 2012, a ferry sank in choppy waters as it crossed from mainland Tanzania to the island of Zanzibar, leaving at least 104 people drowned.

Zanzibar authorities charged three people with manslaughter over the sinking of the ship, the MV Skagit, including its owner and captain.

In September 2011, more than 200 people perished when the MV Spice Islander, which the authorities admitted was overloaded, sank while sailing between two of the main islands in the Zanzibar archipelago. Rescue workers saved 619 passengers.

At least 50 people drowned and some 35 were reported missing after a boat accident on a river in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2011.
Nigeria 6577356324624383644

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