166 feared dead, 2 survive
… As Gabon-bound boat capsizes off Nigerian coast
No less than 45 people died when a wooden boat carrying 166 people from Nigeria’s South-East and bound for Gabon capsized off the coast, a doctor said on Tuesday, according to agency reports.
A doctor at a hospital in the coastal town of Calabar, the Cross River State capital, said that the facility had received 45 bodies of passengers who had drowned.
“The boat left on Friday from the remote town of Oron, in Cross River State (actually Akwa Ibom State), across the Gulf of Guinea and was heading to Gabon, in central Africa, traders said,” Reuters reported.
Head of Cross River emergency services, Mr. David Akate, who was quoted as having confirmed the incident, further said he had no death toll yet.
He added that the two known survivors were a young boy and a woman who had clung to a gas cylinder and were rescued by fishermen.
Spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Yushua Shuaib, said that they could only confirm nine dead so far.
“They are mostly Igbo traders from the South-East who headed to Oron to board the wooden boat because it was cheaper,” a marine transporter in the area, Mr. Ikechukwu Egwu, said.
It would be recalled that some 35 people taking this route from Nigeria to Gabon died after their boat sunk off the coast of Cameroon in 2008.
Similarly, as many as 138 people died when an overloaded boat carrying passengers and goods capsized in rough water on a river in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010.
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