Shipwreck kills 15 off Nigeria

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Fifteen people died when a boat capsized off northwestern Nigeria, police said Wednesday.

The boat was heading to the village of Dundeji in Sokoto state on Tuesday when it capsized in the middle of a river, local police spokesman Sanusi Abubakar told The Associated Press.

There were 36 passengers on board, of whom 21 were rescued. Three females and two males, some of them minors, were killed, Abubakar said.

It is the latest of several shipwrecks in Nigerian river communities.

The villagers gathered in the square with the families of the victims, who had gone to look for firewood, local press reported. Umar Yabo, a local representative, described the deaths as a great loss for the community, which is located about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from the state capital, Sokoto.

Authorities launched an investigation into the incident on Wednesday, police said.

Shipwrecks are common in many Nigerian river communities where locally made rafts are the most common means of transportation. The authorities say that this type of event is due to the excess of passengers and the lack of maintenance of the boats.

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