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29 survivors so far in Nigeria boat sinking


Twenty-nine people, including two who survived by clinging to a cooking gas cylinder, have been rescued after a boat capsized off Nigeria last week with an estimated 128 people on board, an emergency official said on Thursday.

"We have 29 survivors so far from the (Friday) boat accident," the head of Cross Rivers State Emergency Management Agency, Vincent Aquah, told AFP.

He said that the total number of bodies recovered so far remained at nine.

The boat that set off from neighbouring Benin was overloaded with passengers who had hoped to find work in Gabon, Aquah said, citing accounts from survivors.

There were previous indications that the boat had originated from Congo-Brazzaville, but Aquah insisted those accounts were inaccurate.

The vessel is believed to have capsized 40 miles (60 kilometres) off the coast of the city of Calabar in southern Nigeria, the capital of Cross Rivers state.

Aquah specified that two of the survivors had been brought to Calabar in Cross Rivers, while 27 others were in Oron in neighbouring Akwa Ibom state.

He said that after the accident, four passengers, including the captain, had tried to cling to the cylinder.

"But after some hours, the captain and another passenger, a woman, could no longer hold on and fell into the water," Aquah explained.

A 27-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl managed to survive using the makeshift raft, he said.