Chance of more survivors in boat tragedy "slim"

Even as the search continues for possible survivors of a boat tragedy on Liberia's southwestern Lake Piso in Grand Cape Mount County, chances of getting people alive was dwindling.

"The government has not given up yet, but the chance of survival is slim," Reuters quoted Liberian Transport and Communications Minister Joe Mulbah as saying.

"For me as Minister for Transport I doubt there's any hope of any more survivors at this point," Mulbah added.

The boat, Papa Friends 2000, had set out to Robertsport from Sawilo Port with an estimated 207 passengers on 13 December, but capsized shortly after. Its normal capacity was less than 100 passengers, news organisations said.

Liberia's The News newspaper reported on Tuesday that only 15 passengers were rescued with the rest presumed dead. As of Monday, 48 bodies had been recovered as civil defence authorities continued the search for more bodies in
conditions "severely lacking of the proper equipment".

It quoted eyewitnesses as saying the victims who were coming from a funeral of a popular local personality had dismissed warnings by the operators of the boat that it was dangerously overloaded.

Reuters, however, reported on Wednesday that more than 80 bodies had been recovered from the lake.

"The number of bodies is still increasing by the hour. They are only trying to get more dead bodies now and do hope for any more survivors. There are over 80 dead bodies now," it quoted presidential spokesman Vaani Passawei as saying.

He described the incident as a 'national disaster" adding that the government had dispatched food medicines to help the survivors and the victims.