Illegal Passenger Vessel Sinks off Madagascar, Killing at Least 19

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Published Dec 21, 2021 8:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, a cargo ship loaded with passengers went down off the coast of Madagascar, claiming at least 19 lives and leaving 65 missing. 

The cargo vessel, identified as the Francia, was illegally providing transportation for 150 passengers, according to Madagascar's Maritime and River Ports Agency. It had departed an informal port at the village of Antanambe, bound for Soanierana Ivongo, a coastwise voyage about of 35 nm along the island's northeastern shore. 

The vessel developed a leak in the engine room and flooding disabled the engines, agency director Jean Edmond Randrianantenaina told the AP. The vessel began to sink, and the agency dispatched rescue vessels at about 0900 hours Monday morning to respond. 

As of Tuesday morning, 45 people had been rescued, 65 were missing and an additional 19 were confirmed dead, according to local news outlet 2424.mg. 

A helicopter carrying a delegation of government officials to the scene of the casualty went down off the coast on Monday, killing the pilot and leaving one passenger missing. Madagascar's Secretary of State for the National Police, General Gelle Serge, was on board the helicopter and survived the crash. He was rescued from the water and transferred to a hospital for treatment. 

According to local paper L'Express, the passengers were primarily agricultural workers, including some who lacked identity papers.