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117 missing in boat mishap in south Nigeria: Red Cross


08:10, March 21, 2013

LAGOS, March 20 (Xinhua) -- At least 117 persons are yet to be recovered from the sea following a vessel mishap on Tuesday in Cross Rivers State in south Nigeria, top officials with the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) said on Wednesday.

Head of disaster management for the organization Umar Mairiga disclosed this to Xinhua on phone, saying the estimated number of victims involved in the accident was 128 and not over 160 widely reported.

He said from information available to him, the number of dead bodies recovered and received by the organization remains nine.

He said the vessel involved was not owned by a Nigerian or by the country, adding that the two survivors (one male and female) are Togolese.

Also, spokesperson for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Hajiya Lami Tumaka told Xinhua that eight Nigerians and 21 foreigners were rescued by a team of Chinese- owned Addax Petroleum Corp, and Kazpec Nigerian Engineering Limited from the capsized boat heading toward Malabo.

Tumaka also confirmed that the vessel was not a Nigerian flagship.

She quoted one of the survivor as saying that the boat was hit by an under water object that led to the capsize of the boat.

"The rescued are receiving treatment in Navy Hospitals in Calabar and Oron area of the state," she said.

According to Tumaka, the survivor said the boat departed Oron in southern Nigeria's Cross State in darkness in order to evade security agencies from proper checks.

She said efforts are still going on with other aid agencies to rescue possible survivors and to retrieve more corpses.

Local sources had earlier told Xinhua that up to 50 people may have died in the boat mishap.

The accident occurred when a local transport boat capsized 40 nautical miles from south Nigeria's city of Calabar, throwing all passengers overboard, most of who were believed to have died by Wednesday as rescue efforts were still going on.

Spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Yushau Shuaib said on Tuesday night that nine bodies and two survivors were recovered so far, but hospital sources told Xinhua that the death toll was more.

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