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Overcrowded ferry sinks off Haiti, killing 11

An overcrowded ferry sunk off Haiti's southern coast, killing at least 11 people, United Nations and Haitian authorities said Sunday.

An overcrowded ferry sunk off Haiti's southern coast, killing at least 11 people, United Nations and Haitian authorities said Sunday. 

Most of the 100 people aboard the crowded ferry on a two-day voyage to the capital of Port-au-Prince, were able to swim to safety, UN peacekeeping mission spokesman David Wimhurst said.

The vessel sank after taking on water about 150 metres from shore late Saturday.

The ferry's crew recovered 11 bodies from the water and at least five of them were children, Haitian authorities said Sunday.

The ferry was making a slow trip ferrying passengers, food and charcoal to Haiti's capital. It made several stops to take on passengers and cargo and was "overcrowded," Wimhurst said.

A passenger called the mayor of Pestel where the vessel originated to say it was sinking, but rescue workers were unable to reach it quickly because the closest rescue boat was out of gas.

UN peacekeepers and Haitian police arrived later to help survivors on the western outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Wimhurst said.

Many Haitians use rickety ferries because of the bad roads and lack of infrastructure in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

In 1993, some 500 to 700 people died when an overcrowded ferry travelling a similar route sank. Last year, at least nine people died when a ferry hit a sandbar near the tip of Haiti's southern peninsula.

With files from the Associated Press