11 Sep 2009

200+ missing after sinking of boat

7:54 am on 11 September 2009

Authorities in Sierra Leone say at least 200 people are still missing after a boat sank in heavy weather late on Tuesday.

A government minister has been quoted as saying many of the missing were schoolchildren.

Rescue efforts are continuing, but have been hampered by heavy rain.

The incident took place near the capital, Freetown, when the boat was hit by a sudden storm.

The ship's manifest says there were more than 200 passengers on board, but a maritime official says the captain made several stops after signing the manifest, picking up about 100 more people.

The BBC reports the boat was travelling a sea route of about 65km along the coast from the town of Shenge to the village of Tombo near Freetown.

It capsized not long after it left Shenge near Plantain Island.