(Representational image) A hole in the cargo ship's hull is believed to have caused it to sink Photograph:( AFP )
The incident took place on Monday early morning when a cargo ship named Francia left the city of Antanambe, in the northeastern district of Mananara
At 17 people died and 68 went missing after a cargo ship illegally carrying 130 passengers sank off Madagascar’s northeastern coast.
According to a report from the Maritime and River Port Agency, at least 45 people have been rescued from the waters of the Indian Ocean.
The incident took place on Monday early morning when a cargo ship named Francia left the city of Antanambe, in the northeastern district of Mananara, news agency AP reported.
Since it was registered as a cargo ship, it was not authorised to carry passengers, said Jean Edmond Randrianantenaina, director-general of the Maritime and River Port Agency, while adding that “Antanambe is not an official port”
The port agency chief said that a hole in the ship's hull is believed to have caused it to sink.
“According to the information we were able to gather, water entered the engine room. The water started to rise and it swallowed up all the engines,” he said.
“Then the ship began to sink. We don't know exactly what time the water started to rise, but our interventions began around 9 am (local time),” he added.
Another port authority official, Adrien Fabrice Ratsimbazafy, said that after a "technical problem" affecting the engine, the boat found itself at the "mercy of the waves and foundered on a reef".
Randrianantenaina said three boats from the national navy and the maritime agency are continuing the search for those still missing.
(With inputs from agencies)