South Sudan Nile Ferry Sinks Killing 300

Women and children were among the victims in Sunday's disaster.
Women and children were among the victims in Sunday’s disaster.

Some 300 South Sudanese civilians have drowned in a ferry accident while fleeing the conflict in the city of Malakal.

South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer said the accident happened on the White Nile River on Tuesday.

“The reports we have are of between 200 to 300 people, including women and children. The boat was overloaded,” Aguer said.

“They all drowned. They were fleeing the fighting that broke out again in Malakal.”

Malakal, the capital of the oil-rich state of Upper Nile, has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent days as rebel fighters attempt to retake the town, whose authority has changed twice since the beginning of the conflict in South Sudan.

Violent clashes erupted in South Sudan on December 15, 2013, after President Salva Kiir accused former Vice President Riek Machar of attempting to stage a coup. The former vice president denied the accusations.

According to the United Nations, some 400,000 people have been displaced and more than 1,000 have lost their lives during the battle between the South Sudanese government and rebel forces.

The Nile tragedy comes as clashes continue in different areas.

United Nations aid chief for South Sudan Toby Lanzer says the number of people seeking shelters have mounted from 10,000 to 19,000, following a “new fighting in and around Malakal.”

The army spokesman said heavy fighting was reported in the south of Bor, as the South Sudanese troops sought to retake the city from the rebels.

“We are marching on Bor, there was very heavy fighting late on Monday,” Aguer said.

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