2 dead, 28 missing in mini-ferry sinking

 The sinking of a mini -ferry in Gabon, depart­ing from Libreville to reach Port-Gentil, has left “at least two people dead and 28 missing,” a port authority official who wished to remain anony­mous told AFP on Thursday.

After the departure of the passenger ship, “the crew reported an ingress of water between 3:00 and 4:00 am,” the company Royal Cost Marine said on Thursday morning on its Facebook page.

“This intrusion resulted in a loss of control of the vessel. Authorities have been alerted and rescue is on the scene, pas­sengers are being rescued,” the company said.

At the Port Mole pier, where the boat left with 151 passengers on board, six ambulances were lined up on the quay alongside a fire truck. At midday, the first motorised pirogues were begin­ning to bring back the survivors, an AFP journalist noted.

The Prime Minister, Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze, and the Minister of the Interior, Lam­bert Noel-Matha, are currently on site.

A young woman was carried on a stretcher under a survival blanket to an ambulance, an AFP journalist noted.

Other survivors have also disembarked from a barge of the oil logistics company Peschaud, which participated in the rescue, under the applause and cries of joy.

The survivors are being taken directly to the ambulances to re­ceive first aid and a tent is being set up to accommodate them.

Facing the stretchers lined up on the platform, the families, racked by anxiety, are kept away. They are trying to get up on the barriers blocking the access to the docks, hoping to see one of their relatives. —AFP

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