Scores Die When Boat Capsizes In Nigeria

SUNDAY, JAN. 28, 1996

At least 172 people were killed and several left missing after a sudden, powerful storm capsized their boat off Nigeria’s southeast coast, a newspaper said Saturday.

The incident occurred Wednesday as the boat headed for the country of Gabon, Punch newspaper said.

The accident could not be confirmed with authorities: Neither the government nor the police issued a report. However, the state-run news agency on Saturday carried excerpts of the Punch dispatch.

It is not unusual for Nigeria’s military government to keep quiet about incidents that might add to the country’s reputation for mismanagement and corruption.

Punch said the boat developed engine problems and stalled. “While the operators were battling to bring the engine to life, a great gale arose, and tossed the boat … pouring its contents into the sea.”

Fishermen in the area tried to rescue the passengers, but the storm thwarted their efforts.

Punch quoted witnesses as saying the boat was carrying about 260 people, many of them Nigerian traders, but did not have adequate life rafts or other safety equipment.

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