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Old 24-03-2006, 12:33   #1
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Post 123 Missing After Ship Sinks

Red Cross: Survivors say wave crashed into overloaded boat.

Only 27 of 150 passengers on a ship traveling from Nigeria to Gabon survived when the vessel sank Wednesday night, said the harbor master for the main port in Cameroon.

The ship was traveling in the Gulf of Guinea, along the West African coast, said Capt. Charles Kontelizo, the harbor master in Douala. It sank in Cameroonian waters after leaving the Nigerian port of Oron, he said. It was traveling to Port Gentil on the westernmost tip of Gabon.

Cameroon lies between Nigeria and Gabon. Port Gentil is about 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of Oron.

Fishermen first saw survivors early Thursday and rescued 27. Most were from West African nations, including Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Ghana, Kontelizo said.

The survivors were put into the care of police in the port city of Kribi, the port nearest to where the fishermen found the survivors, Kontelizo said.

Francois Mahouwa, the Red Cross coordinator in the Kribi region, said it was too soon to give a final death toll. However, from speaking to survivors, he said he surmised that rough seas and an overloaded boat likely caused the sinking.

"There were many waves. They were in a wooden boat with a lot of people and a lot of goods on board. It seems that a wave broke the wood and water started to enter," said Mahouwa.

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