At least 29 people died in the sinking of a small ferry off Gabon on March 9 and eight others remain missing, after a body was recovered on Thursday, according to a new death toll announced by the government.
Fifteen days after the tragedy, research is continuing to find the remains of the missing, the government said on its website on Friday.
One hundred and twenty-four castaways had been recovered alive out of the 161 occupants of the Esther Miracle officially registered on board when it sailed from the capital Libreville to reach the oil port of Port-Gentil on the night of March 8 to 9.
This mixed passenger and freight ship from the private company Royal Cost Marine (RCM) sank in the middle of the night ten km from the coast.
Its dilapidation, as well as its unsuitability for transporting passengers, have been questioned in particular by local media, families and civil society groups.
On March 17, the Libreville public prosecutor announced the arrest of 33 people since the tragedy as part of a criminal investigation to determine the causes of the sinking, in particular officials from the Ministry of Transport, the Merchant Navy and RCM executives.
Since then, nothing has leaked about the investigation.
Read alsoFatal shipwreck of a ferry in Gabon: 33 people arrested
Castaways have also testified in various media not to have been guided by the crew during the evacuation, to have remained long hours in the water, clinging to rescue inflatable boats which were taking on water or to their buoys. of rescue, before the arrival of first aid despite the proximity of Libreville.
The shipwreck took place not far from the entrance to the gulf which shelters Libreville and the lack of responsiveness of the rescue services is also publicly questioned in the media and by the survivors, rescued first by small-scale fishermen and then by a barge. a private company.
There are too many negligence, compromises, privileges and small arrangements, the transport sector is particularly concerned, whether maritime, land or rail
”, estimated on March 17 the Prime Minister, Alain- Claude Bilie-By-Nze, promising "
administrative sanctions without prejudice to criminal sanctions
I also note with regret that the phenomenon of corruption in our administration is becoming worrying.
“, concluded the head of government, the day after the resignation of the Minister of Transport, Brice Paillat.