18 drown in boat accident

2009-10-23 21:08

Yaoundé - Eighteen people drowned and another has been missing since a motorised pirogue sank on a lake in the far north of Cameroon, local officials said on Friday.

The accident happened on Wednesday and rescue workers faced bad weather and many hippopotami in the lake which slowed down their work, the prefect of the Mayo Danai district, David Koulbout Aman, told AFP.

"When we left the scene of the accident last night (Thursday), 18 bodies had been fished out" of the water, Koulbout said, adding that 14 of the victims were women and four were babies.

Six people, including the owner of the pirogue, had managed to swim to the shore, he added.

Koulbout said that the small boat had been carrying 25 people and goods and was sailing between Guere and Wina, two lakeside villages.

The accident happened as the steersman was trying to moor his boat, which overturned.

The prefect said that the owner of the pirogue would be interrogated, since his boat had been overloaded at the time of the tragedy.