Gabon ferry sinking death toll climbs to six

Police and maritime officials in Gabon oversee the search and rescue operation in the wake of the sinking of the ferry Esther Miracle on March 9, 2023. Six of the ferry's occupants are confirmed dead while 31 others are still missing. (Photo: Official Twitter account of Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba)

Authorities in Gabon have reported that six people are now confirmed to have died as a result of a ferry sinking incident that occurred off the country’s western coast late last week.

Officials reported the increase in the death toll following the flooding and the sinking of the Ro-Pax ferry Esther Miracle in calm seas shortly after 03:00 local time on Thursday, March 9.

The ferry was approaching the port city of Port-Gentil when the incident occurred.

Of the 161 people who were on the ferry, 124 survivors were rescued while two deceased individuals were recovered from the water during the first phase of the search and rescue (SAR) operation. The remaining 35 were initially reported missing.

The SAR effort led to the recovery of an additional four bodies from the surrounding waters, local media reported on Monday, March 13. The deceased have all been identified as occupants of the ill-fated ferry.

The country’s government has ordered the temporary suspension of all overnight ferry sailings as an investigation into the tragedy is being conducted.

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