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Six die in ship sinking between Sao Tome and Principe

Rescued passengers are disembarked from a rescue vessel at the port of Santo Antonio on Principe after a passenger ship sank

Libreville (AFP)

Six people died Thursday when a passenger ship with more than 60 people on board sank as it was on its regular route between the islands of Sao Tome and Principe, off west Africa, officials said.

"Fifty-five people were rescued and six people died," the head of the regional government on Principe island, Jose Cardoso Cassandra, told AFP.

He did not give a cause for the sinking.

Some passengers were believed to be missing, but a precise number was not given.

"I saw a rescue boat come into port with several survivors, but also a dead child," one witness in Principe's northern port of Santo Antonio told AFP.

Sao Tome and Principe together form a relatively poor Portuguese-speaking republic located in the Gulf of Guinea, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) off the coasts of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Passenger ships linking the two islands, 150 kilometres apart, are often overcrowded.

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