Toll from Mali boat accident more than triples to 72 dead

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 19, 2013 8:37 AM

BAMAKO (Reuters) - The death toll from a boat accident in Mali last week has more than tripled to 72 after more bodies were found, the government said on Saturday.

The accident took place on the Niger River on October 11 when a boat overloaded with passengers and goods capsized near the town of Konna, as it was heading for the northern town of Timbuktu.

"The latest toll is 72 dead, 11 slightly injured and 210 rescued," government spokesman Sounkalo Togola said after three ministers traveled to the scene of the accident.

Authorities had given an initial figure of 20 dead. Togola said no more passengers were missing.

Abdoulaye Koumare, Mali's transport minister who was among those who visited the scene, criticized the lack of security procedures and said emergency measures such as limiting the weight of cargo and numbers of passengers would be put in place.

The Niger River is a major route for transporting goods and people to Mali's desert north, which is gradually recovering from months of occupation by al Qaeda-linked rebels last year.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Alistair Lyon)