Monday, August 13, 2007

50 drowned, 100 missing in Sierra Leone as boat capsizes

Aug 3, 2007 FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (Reuters) -- Around 50 people were feared drowned and more than 100 were missing after their boat capsized in heavy rain at the mouth of a river in Sierra Leone, police said on Friday.

A spokesman for a local boat owners' association said seven bodies had so far been recovered from the sea at the estuary of the Great Scarcies River, near Sierra Leone's northern border.

Police in the northern Kambia district estimated around 50 people had died based on accounts from the only two survivors found so far.

The boat, which was en route from the coastal capital Freetown to the riverside town of Rokupr, was believed to be carrying around 200 passengers when it ran into the choppy river waters, swollen by a week of torrential rains.

"Members of the Sierra Leone navy, backed by some members of the boat association, left in the early hours for the disaster scene to join local fishermen who have been searching since the tragedy took place," said the spokesman for the boat owners' association, Michael Asuman.

Authorities say that the heavy rains have washed away scores of homes in the hilly Freetown area over the last week, leaving more than 500 people on the streets.

Boating accidents are common during Sierr Leonea Leone's treacherous rainy season. Some 25 people drowned in July last year when a wave overturned their boat at the mouth of the Great Scarcies river.

Many of the vessels plying trade and passenger routes on inland waterways and off West Africa's coast are poorly maintained, with accurate passenger manifests a rarity.

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Martiime Notes:

This from my shipmate at
Tanker Grounded off Coney Island, NY

After experiencing a steering problem the tanker “White Sea” ran aground off of Coney Island New York. The Gotahamist tells us: Continue reading at .

Casualties from

Cari-carrier M/V Nobleza, Monrovia-flagged, was caught by strong wind and pushed against pilings in the Kiel Canal with its port side while passing from Brunsbuettel to Kiel-Holtenau on Aug. 5. The vessel lated resumed its voyage with minor dents. From our Sr. Correspondent Tim Schwabedissen (Thurs. Aug. 9 2007)

F/V Zhu Wan 4209 sank in a tropical storm in the waters of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea on Aug 3. All five abaord were rescued by 35,500-ton German container M/V Northern Faith. From our Sr. Correspondent Tim Schwabedissen (Thurs. Aug. 9 2007).

Weather Story:

CHINA:Thousands of China homes flooded. More than 3,600 homes in southern China have been destroyed by floods resulting from a now fading tropical storm, Chinese state media has reported. The floods in Guangdong province have affected about 1.2 million people and caused an estimated 1.3bn yuan ($171m) of damage, Xinhua news agency said. The rain was caused by Tropical Storm Pabuk, which hit Hong Kong on Friday, disrupting transport and business.

The latest on Hurricane Flossie:

-- Hurricane Flossie strengthened to a Category 4 storm Saturday as it spun more than 1,000 miles south of Hawaii.

Satellite image taken at 10:30 a.m. ET shows Flossie's position relative to Hawaii.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Flossie had intensified with maximum sustained winds near 132 mph, and was about 1,100 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii. Flossie was upgraded to Category 3 from a Category 1 overnight.

The storm was expected to weaken later in the day as it passed over cooler waters. It was traveling west at about 12 mph.

Jeff Powell, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said Flossie hadn't changed its course and was expected to pass the Hawaiian Islands early Wednesday with rough surf. A "ramp up" of surf on the Big Island was expected late Monday.

The island's southeastern shores could see waves of 8 to 12 feet, forecasters said, with the surf rising during the day Monday and peaking Tuesday. The island's South Point is the southernmost area of the United States.

State civil defense officials urged residents to be prepared because of the unpredictable nature of hurricanes. A one or two degree direction change, they say, could make a big difference.

"If this thing fizzles out, so what? Everybody should still be prepared," said Dave Curtis, spokesman for the state Civil Defense Agency.

Flossie formed as a tropical storm Wednesday about halfway between Mexico's southern Pacific coast and Hawaii. Its winds surpassed 74 mph, making it a hurricane, on Friday.

The last time a hurricane hit Hawaii was in 1992, when Iniki ravaged Kauai, killing six people and causing $2.5 billion in damage.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. In May, forecasters predicted that Hawaii and the rest of the central Pacific face a slightly below-average hurricane season, with just two or three tropical cyclones expected because of lower sea surface temperatures.The islands get an average of 4.5 tropical cyclones a year and one hurricane about every 15 years. Last year, the central Pacific had five tropical cyclones after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted two to three.

On July 21, a tropical depression moved past the Big Island, bringing a few inches of rain to the parched island but no major problems. Cosme, the year's first Pacific tropical cyclone, reached hurricane status for a day before it weakened.

Finally, how about a little rough seas off of the coast of Japan?