Calabar — Twenty-seven people were rescued in the boat mishap, which occurred at Malabo, 40 nautical miles off the Calabar water ways on March 15, Vanguard has learnt.
Mr. Olayemi Abass, Coordinator of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, said, yesterday, in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, that the survivors were rescued by Adax Oil, which has an oil rig in the area.
He said: "Some of the survivors were taken to Oron and two brought to Calabar. Those in Calabar are receiving treatment at Bakorm Medical Centre, Calabar."
At Bakorm Medical Centre, one of the survivors, who gave his name as Kieve Sani, a Togolese, said the boat started its ill-fated trip at 9am on Friday and sank at 3pm, adding that they were on the sea until 3 pm on Sunday, before help came their way.
He said there were 128 passengers and five crew members on board.
He said: "I was in Nigeria for one month and assisted the crew members who became my friends in recording the names of the passengers in French and answering phone calls for them when somebody called from Gabon. So I know the number of passengers that stared the trip that Friday morning."
Sani, who said he was being taken to Gabon from Togo by a 'master' whom he paid 500 cfa after selling his car, attributed the boat mishap to engine failure, which, he said, caused the boat to become stationery. It subsequently took in water and sank after a while.
"When the engine stopped, the deriver asked us to pray while some prayed to Jesus, others prayed to Allah but this did not help as the engine did not start working."
Sani, said the boat which started its voyage in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, had only three passengers from Nigeria, a man and two ladies, who were taking textiles to Gabon, while most of the passengers were from Togo, Ghana and Niger, all going to Gabon in search of job.
He said he and the lady that was rescued, held on to a cylinder, along with two others but as the days went by, the two others became too weak and unable to hold on to the cylinder and were swept away by the sea.
"My master and another lady held on to the cylinder with us but as time went on, my master could not continue and told us that he was going and later another lady went and only two of us were left and held on to the cylinder until the Adax people came," Sani said.