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Many More Die in Senegal Ferry Accident Than Previously Reported - 2002-09-29


Officials in Senegal say many more people died in the sinking of a ferry off the coast of Gambia on Thursday than had originally been thought.

Senegalese officials revised the death toll Sunday, saying more than 1,000 people were aboard the Joola when it went down off the coast of Gambia late Thursday. Officials had earlier said the vessel had been carrying 796 passengers.

Officials say only 64 people survived the disaster.

Divers and other rescue workers have retrieved more than 300 bodies from the sea off Gambia as anguished relatives continued to wait for final word on the fate of passengers.

Rescue teams Sunday said virtually all hope was lost of finding any more survivors.

The ferry sank in rough weather late Thursday as it traveled from southern Senegalese Cassamance region to the capital, Dakar, in the north. Gambia is a small nation that lies on the Atlantic coast and is surrounded on three sides by Senegal.

The disaster has sparked anger among victims' relatives and others who accuse the ferry's operators of negligence, alleging the vessel might have been overloaded.

Senegalese leader Abdoulaye Wade has said he believes the government bears responsibility for the sinking and has pledged to carry out a speedy investigation.

Officials say most of the passengers were Senegalese. Others included people from neighboring Guinea-Bissau and a number of European travelers.

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