July 31, 2006

At least 25 drown as boat capsizes in Sierra Leone

FREETOWN (Reuters) - At least 25 people drowned after their
boat capsized in heavy rain at the mouth of a river in Sierra
Leone, the head of a boat owners' association in the West
African country said on Monday.

"A wooden boat with about 50 passengers ... that left
neighboring Guinea for Sierra Leone on Saturday capsized along
the Great Scarcies river when a wave struck it during a heavy
downpour," Osman Kamara said.

Fisherman and police officials rescued six passengers but
recovered 25 bodies. The other passengers were feared drowned
although a search was still underway, Kamara said.

Many of the vessels plying trade and passenger routes on
inland waterways and off Africa's shores are poorly maintained,
with accurate passenger manifests a rarity.

About 120 people drowned after a boat packed with
passengers and good capsized on Ghana's Lake Volta in April, a
week after an overloaded vessel carrying three times the number
of people it was built to take sank off Djibouti killing more
than 100.