33 people have been arrested as part of a criminal investigation into the sinking of a small boat in Gabon a week ago, bringing the provisional count to 21, the public prosecutor announced on Friday.
In all, 124 of the 161 passengers and crew of the Esther Miracle, a mixed passenger and cargo ship, were rescued after it sank just off the coast of Gabonis at midnight on March 9.
The three-day toll remained unchanged at 21 dead and 16 missing, still tentative, according to the government, as search operations continue.
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“The majority” of the 33 people in police custody include specific members of the transport ministry, the merchant marine and the company that owns the boat, said Libreville’s public prosecutor, André-Patrick Robonat.
Earlier in the day, Gabon Transport Minister Bryce Pilot had submitted his resignation letter to President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who accepted it, pointing to the president in a press release without mentioning the sinking.
In addition to the government-announced suspension of four executives from the Merchant Marine and Maritime Affairs Administration, Mr. Many voices have been raised in recent days calling for the pilot to step down.
The shipwreck happened 10 km off the coast and not far from the bay entrance that shelters Libreville.
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