January 25, 2022

at least 85 dead in the sinking of a freight ship

The toll of the drama grows heavier day by day. The sinking of a goods transport boat in the northeast of Madagascar on Monday left at least 85 dead, Agence France-Presse learned from the maritime authorities and the gendarmes on Thursday, December 23. Twenty-one bodies were found on Wednesday.

The wrecked ship had boarded 138 passengers on board Monday morning, of which only 50 were rescued, maritime authorities said. The wooden freight boat, which was not authorized to take passengers, had left the small town of Antseraka towards Soanierana Ivongo, a hundred kilometers further south, and ran aground nearby. of its destination.

Most of the people it carried were seasonal workers, who had just picked cloves and were heading home for the holiday season. The distance can be covered in just over two hours by boat, against at least eight by bush taxi, according to several residents.

National day of mourning

According to the first elements of the investigation, “The engine would have had a technical problem”, explained Tuesday Adrien Fabrice Ratsimbazafy, of the Maritime and River Port Agency. “The boat found itself at the mercy of the waves and ran aground on a reef”, before taking the water.

Monday evening, a helicopter, which left the capital, Antananarivo, to go to the shipwreck area, crashed at sea, with on board the Secretary of State for the Gendarmerie, General of the Gendarmerie Serge Gellé. Ejected from the aircraft, Mr. Gellé and a gendarme survived, swimming nearly twelve hours to reach shore. Two other gendarmes, including the pilot, are missing.

A mass is scheduled for Thursday for the deceased and the flags are at half mast across the country. The President of the Malagasy Republic, Andy Rajoelina, announced Tuesday this national day of mourning to mark the double tragedy of this shipwreck and this crash.

The World with AFP