Liberian rebels beaten back outside Monrovia

By: Reuters/LA Times
© Reuters Ltd. 2002

MONROVIA, December 17th (Reuters) - MONROVIA, Liberia -- At least 60 people drowned and scores more were feared dead after an overloaded ferry carrying 200 passengers back from a funeral capsized in Liberia, officials said.

"There are many, many bodies," said James Harris, a military officer who had been helping with the rescue effort. "There is no time to identify them. They are buried immediately. There's no time for a funeral or coffins."

Harris said that one of the victims was a diver looking for survivors and that it was unlikely any more passengers would be found alive.

The wooden ferry Papa Friends 2000 pitched its passengers into Lake Piso near the coastal town of Robertsport in northwest Liberia on Saturday as they returned from the funeral of a popular local soccer player, Defense Ministry officials said.

Defense Minister Daniel Chea told a news conference late Sunday that 15 survivors had been pulled from the water.

Chea said nearly 200 people were aboard the vessel. A Defense Ministry official said Monday that the ferry normally carried fewer than 100 people.

Harris said the ferry's captain was one of the survivors. He said the captain had complained that the ferry's outboard motor was not working properly.

December 17th, 2002 in LA Times

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uploaded by Robert W. Kranz  17-12-2002