April 8, 2006

Death toll in Djibouti sinking reaches 94

DJIBOUTI (Reuters) - Rescuers in Djibouti have found 22
more bodies from an overloaded boat that sank two days ago,
bringing the death toll to 94, police said on Saturday.

The bodies were pulled out of the waters near the port in
Djibouti, where the wooden boat capsized on Thursday carrying
some 250 people to an annual religious pilgrimage.

"We got these bodies because the water is calm," Colonel
Zachariah Ahmed Sheikh, a Djiboutian army officer in charge of
the rescue, said.

Djiboutian rescuers, with divers and equipment from the
American and French military and a helicopter, found the bodies
after resuming the search when dawn broke.

The victims died within 100 metres (yards) of the dock it
sailed from as the boat was steaming to the town of Tadjoura,
35 km (22 miles) northeast. It had three times the number of
passengers it was built for crammed aboard.

Thursday's disaster is the worst to strike the tiny Red Sea
state of 300,000, since flooding killed 50 people in one night
in April 2003. Djibouti is a hub of US counterterrorism
operations in the Horn of Africa.