at: 0214 PST, Sunday, September 13, 2009
FREETOWN: Sierra Leone has recovered and buried the bodies of 120
people who died in this week's ferry disaster, a naval official said
Saturday, but scores more passengers are still unaccounted for.
Naval Lieutenant Mohamed Turay of the surveillance patrol unit said, "A
total of 120 corpses have now been buried, some in mass graves...
because of their badly decomposed condition."
He added: "What is happening now is that many of the corpses have
drifted from the scene of the accident and it is possible some will
float into creeks and other places, but we shall continue to patrol
despite the inclement weather."
An official statement by Sierra Leone's President Ernest Koroma released
Saturday did not give the number of deaths but stated that Tuesday's
"gruesome sea accident claimed the lives of a large number of Sierra
Koroma declared Monday a national day of mourning for the victims of the
disaster off the coast of the west African nation.
His statement said "during the day of mourning, citizens are encouraged
to wear black armbands while flags will be flown at half mast".
It also pledged government aid to speed up search operations and medical
assistance for survivors.
According to survivors, the wooden boat carried goods and passengers
including a large number of children and went down within minutes when
it was hit by a storm.
Survivors also claimed that rescue operations were slow in getting
started and medical officials said there was not enough medicine to
treat the few dozen survivors.
Police said on Friday only 37 people were known to have survived after
the ferry, the Teh Teh, overturned and sank Tuesday night.
Estimates of the numbers on board ranged from 268 to more than 300.