Relatives and friends place candles and flowers for missing people in Gabon
Copyright © africanews
STEEVE JORDAN/AFP or licensors
13/03 – 21:01
The death toll in the ferry disaster off the coast of Gabon last Thursday has risen to six, with thirty-one people still missing.
The privately-owned Esther Miracle was carrying 161 passengers and crew from the capital Libreville to the oil town of Port-Gentil when it sank in calm waters in the middle of the night.
Most of the 124 survivors were picked up off Libreville after dawn on Thursday by locals in dugout canoes, fishermen, an oil barge, and a navy patrol boat.
As the search continues, grieving relatives have been waiting for four days at the quayside at Port Môle, the commercial harbour of the capital, for news of their loved ones.
For some, grief has turned to anger with families blaming the authorities for not informing them and the rescue services for intervening too late.
“My four children have still not been found and the boat has not been touched. If they had gone to look in the boat, then we would at least have had accurate information about exactly what was in the boat,” said Dyssia Mwanmbatsi Eve.
With the wreckage of the ferry now located, some are still hoping for a miracle while others say all they want is to get the bodies of their loved ones back.
“We saw the condition in which the bodies arrived yesterday, the bodies that were found the day before, and it was an indescribable state actually. Some still have hope, because miracles can happen, but we’ve lost some hope of finding our parents alive,” said Jeff Bandzandza, speaking on behalf of families of the missing.
The government has suspended all overnight passenger ships until at least 31 March, pending the outcome of an inquiry into the cause of the accident, and has ordered an audit of all passenger vessels.
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