BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Africa  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Friday, 27 September, 2002, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
Hundreds lost as Senegal ferry sinks
Two woman embrace as they await news of the missing passengers
Anxious relatives have crowded the quayside in Dakar
More than 700 people are thought to have died after a passenger ferry capsized during a fierce storm off the coast of Gambia.

Eighty-eight bodies have been recovered and another 670 people are feared drowned after being trapped under the vessel.


We were hearing people screaming from underneath

Survivor Moussa Ndong
More than 30 have been rescued by ships in the area.

The ferry, which was travelling from Ziguinchor in the south of Senegal to the capital, Dakar, had only recently resumed service after undergoing repairs - and officials are checking out reports that it was overloaded.

The ferry capsized before midnight on Thursday
The state-owned ferry was equipped to carry a maximum of about 550 people, but was carrying 796 according to the government.

Security officials at the port in Dakar had to put up barriers to hold back the hundreds of anguished relatives who have gathered there, waiting for news.

The Senegalese Government has declared three days of national mourning.

Going by a boat is a popular method of transport between Dakar and Ziguinchor because a civil war has made the route by road treacherous.

Survivor Moussa Ndong, speaking to the Associated Press by telephone from a hospital in Gambia, said the boat began tipping over to one side as a storm brewed.

'It was horrible'

Water rushed into the cabin. When the lights went out, he said, passengers screamed.

"We managed to swim out of the water, yelling for help," he said.

Survivors stayed on top of the capsized boat for two hours, until fishing boats arrived to pluck them off.

"It was horrible, because we were hearing people screaming from underneath," he said.

"The boat went down so fast. It was so unbelievable - in just three minutes, the boat went down."

Praying and chanting

Many of the Joola's passengers are from the Joola people, based mainly in Casamance.

The BBC's Chris Simpson in Dakar says the mood is one of anger at the quayside in the capital.

He says people are frustrated and anxious because they have been given little information.

Some families quoted by the AFP news agency put the blame on transport officials. They said the Joola had been put back into service prematurely.

A large group of Joola women have been praying and chanting by the waterfront while other friends and relatives listen to local radio reports and trade information about the sea voyage and how the shipwreck had happened.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Chris Simpson in Dakar
"There are hundreds of people feared lost"
See also:

10 Jul 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes