At least 17 people died and 68 went missing after a cargo ship, illegally carrying 130 passengers, sank near Madagascar's northeastern coast on 20th December. 45 people have been rescued from the waters of the Indian Ocean.
The ship, Francia, is registered as a cargo ship, hence not authorized to carry passengers. It had left the port of Antanambe, in the eastern Mananara Nord district, which is also not an official port. Francia was headed for the port of Soanierana Ivongo in the south.
A hole in the ship's hull is believed to have caused this tragedy. The director-general of the Maritime and River Port Agency, Jean Edmond Randianantenaina, said:
"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. Then the ship began to sink. We don't know exactly what time the water started to rise, but our interventions began around 9am."
Three boats from the national navy and the maritime agency are still searching for those who are missing.