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Gabon ferry death toll rises to six; 31 still missing

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The death toll from the ferry sinking in Gabon last week has risen to six, officials said, while rescuers continue to search for 31 people who are still missing.

The privately owned Esther Miracle Vessel was carrying 161 passengers from the capital Libreville to Port-Gentil, a southern oil port town, when it capsized in calm waters near the coastal village of Nyonie on March 9.

On Monday, the government said three more bodies had been found on Sunday, doubling the death toll to six.

Gabon ferry death toll rises to six; 31 still missing

Concerned agencies had revealed that they are yet to stop searching and have instead intensified their effort. “As we speak, a boat is in the area with dive teams locating the wreck,” Prime Minister Alain-Claude Bilie By Nze told state broadcaster Gabon 1ere on Sunday.

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The Air Force has been conducting daily searches to find the missing since the ferry went down.

“The search operation continues despite the size of the operation area,” said pilot Modeste Mezui to the state radio station.

An investigation has been launched to determine whether negligence, poor maintenance or “factors beyond human control” caused the accident, Libreville prosecutor André-Patrick Rouponat told AFP on Thursday.Gabon ferry death toll rises to six; 31 still missing

Pending the outcome of the investigation, the government of Gabon has suspended night sailings of passenger ships until at least March 31 and has ordered all passenger ships to be inspected.

Most of the 124 survivors were rescued by Libreville residents in boats, fishermen, an oil barge and a Navy patrol boat after dawn Thursday.

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