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Boat Capsizes in Sudan; 55 Dead

April 6, 1998 GMT

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ Two dozen more bodies have been found after a boat accident in the Blue Nile, bringing the confirmed death toll to 55, a newspaper reported today. It said some 260 army recruits remain unaccounted for.

On Sunday, a military statement said the boat carrying recruits capsized Thursday, killing 31 people. It did not say how many people were aboard.

The daily Alwan reported today that 24 more bodies had been found. It said about 260 recruits were missing.

The vessel overturned soon after the men got on board, the military statement said. They were training at the Ailafoon military camp, 15 miles southeast of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

The newspaper said the boat capsized when the recruits, picked up forcefully from streets and markets, were trying to escape from the camp where soldiers are trained to fight rebels. Military service is mandatory for Sudanese men.

The military statement did not say why the boat capsized.

A statement by the opposition National Democratic Alliance claimed that soldiers shot and killed a ``great number″ of the recruits and fired tear gas at others as they boarded the boat. The statement did not give a source for the report.

The area around the accident site was declared off-limits to reporters and people looking for missing relatives. Sudanese officials could not be reached for comment, partly because today is a religious holiday in Sudan.