Nineteen killed as canoe capsizes in Mali: local authorities

BANGLADESH-BOAT-ACCIDENTNineteen people died when their canoe capsized on the Niger river in central Mali, local authorities said on Thursday.

The vessel overturned on a stretch of the waterway linking Niafunke in the Timbuktu region to the central city of Mopti on Wednesday, officials told AFP.

Oumar Sanke, of the Mopti civil protection department told AFP “19 people were killed, four are missing and 70 survived”.

“The search and rescue continues. The death toll remains provisional because we do not know exactly how many passengers boarded the (canoe),” he added.

A spokesman from the Mopti rivers authority said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the accident.

“I do not know if it’s bad weather or overloading that caused it,” he told AFP.

Large dugout canoes typically carry scores of people and large amounts of merchandise along the Niger, which extends as far north as Timbuktu.

They are the main means of transport for residents of Mali’s central and northern regions travelling to the towns dotting the Niger, the main river in west Africa.

Accidents involving rudimentary canoes are frequent but there have been no major disasters since a river boat sinking in October 2013 that saw more than 70 people drown.

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