Al-Baraqua II Capsizes

A boat carrying passengers to a religious festival capsized as it left Djibouti's main harbour yesterday, killing at least 69 people.

The ferry was transporting up to 300 people to the northern town of Tadjourah when it overturned and sank in the Red Sea shortly after midday. Ismael Tani, an adviser to Djibouti's president, told the Associated Press that the death toll was expected to rise.

The victims were taken to Tapelletier hospital, where officials said that 36 people had been admitted with injuries. More than 70 were reported to have survived, and at least 20 were still unaccounted for.

Local television reports suggested that the traditional wooden boat had been carrying between 250 and 300 people, all from Djibouti, to a religious ceremony scheduled for today.

The al-Baraqua II capsized on April 6, 2006, in the Gulf of Tadjoura off the coast of Djibouti's capital of Djibouti City. The ferry was carrying passengers from the capital to a religious festival in Tadjoura when the accident occurred, shortly after departure. As of April 11, the death toll stood at 113 with many still missing.

Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh has ordered an investigation into the sinking. Early reports suggest the ferry may have been overcrowded. About 200 people were believed to be on board the ferry when it capsized.

At least 69 people have died when a boat capsized in the Red Sea off the coast of Djibouti.

The authorities say the vessel was on its way from the port of Djibouti to the town of Tadjoura.

They say 36 people who were injured in the accident are now being treated in hospitals in Djibouti.

It is believed the boat was carrying more than 200 passengers who were travelling to a religious festival. The cause of the accident is not yet known.