CONAKRY: At least nine people died and dozens more were missing Friday after an overcrowded wooden boat went down off the south coast of Guinea, officials said.
The long thin pirogue boat had 69 passengers aboard when it left the port of Farmoriah for a weekly market further along the coast of the west African country, the national navigation agency said.
“It capsized at sea not far from (the market town of) Benty, leaving nine dead while 18 escaped,” the agency said in a statement read on television.
A local security source said the ill-fated ship was involved in a collision with another vessel at sea.
He confirmed that nine people were dead, and said that 30 others remained unaccounted for.
The boat capsized minutes after leaving port, the source said, adding: “It slammed straight into a mining ship… and sank.”
The source said the mining ship belonged to the Forecariah Guinea Mining company, a joint venture set up by Australian Bellzone and the China International Fund (CIF) to mine iron ore.
The shipping accident happened off Forecariah province, already badly hit by the deadly Ebola virus which has spread in Guinea and neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Such incidents are frequent occurences off the 300-kilometre Guinean coast.
In August 2012, one accident left 30 dead not far from the capital Conakry.