Authorities said on Monday that at least nine people were killed and an unknown number were missing after a passenger boat collided with a cargo vessel on a river in northwest Madagascar.

Children were among the 35 people aboard the eight-metre (26-foot) boat when it collided on the Loza river near Antsohihy on Sunday evening, according to the River and Maritime Port Agency (APMF).
Some passengers were able to swim ashore, but others are still missing.

“We don’t know what happened to the other passengers yet,” said APMF Director-General Jean-Edmond Randrianantenaina.

He stated that rescue efforts are still ongoing.

According to the agency, the passenger boat was sailing from Ambiky when it was rammed by a cargo dhow and sank immediately.

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Randrianantenaina suggested the accident may have been caused by lack of lighting on the passenger boat.

“The cargo ship fled after the collision, but we caught up with it,” said Randrianantenaina, adding that police were questioning the crew.

Last December a boat sank off Madagascar’s northeastern coast, claiming 88 lives, most of them seasonal workers returning home after harvesting cloves.

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