Death toll in Ghana boat disaster lower than feared

The death toll from a boat accident in Ghana earlier this month was considerably lower than initial estimates suggested, officials said on Thursday as they launched an investigation into the accident.

Initial reports said about 120 of the 150 people believed to have been on the boat had drowned, but on Thursday police downgraded the numbers to no more than 30.

“The man in charge of the boat said he had between 95 and 100 passengers. We have 71 survivors, therefore between 25 and 30 people could have lost their lives,” Moses Teteh, a police officer from the Hohoe region where the accident occurred, told Agence France-Presse.

Ten bodies, among them five children, have so far been retrieved from the Lake Volta waters.

Meanwhile, 12 days after the boat disaster the government has set up a team of experts to investigate the boat accident on April 8.

“I inaugurated the committee on Wednesday and they start work on Friday,” Ameyaw Akumfi, minister of harbours and railways, said.

The team has five weeks to conduct its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the April 8 disaster, in which a passenger boat sank on Lake Volta, north-west of the capital, Accra.

Local media said the passengers were illegal squatters evicted from a government forest park, about 180km from Accra, who were forced onto the boat to return to their villages near the border with Togo.

Boat accidents on Lake Volta, caused by overloading boats and hitting tree stumps, have over the past four years claimed some 300 lives, according to police.—AFP

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