Gabon detains several officials in wake of ferry disaster
Gabon authorities have detained several state officials in connection with the ferry disaster in which at least 21 people have died.
A ferry known as Esther Miracle carrying 161 people from Libreville to Port-Gentil sank when it capsized in calm waters on March 9 close to the coastal village of Nyonie.
Authorities launched rescued operations. 124 have been rescued and 21 confirmed dead. Search is still ongoing to rescue the remaining others.
Director General of the Merchant Navy, Fidèle Angoué Mba, and his deputy, as well as the Director General of the company Royal Coast, Blaise Armand Maganga, owner of the vessel have been reportedly detained in connection with the investigation.
Andre Patrick Roponat, the Libreville public prosecutor, told AFP news agency on Thursday an inquiry had been launched to determine whether negligence, poor maintenance or “factors beyond human control” caused the accident.
The Gabonese government also suspended overnight passenger ship voyages until at least March 31 and ordered an audit of all passenger vessels.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba decreed a three-day national mourning. He also banned all sport and entertaining programs in line with the mourning to take place March 14-16.