At least seven schoolgirls drowned in the Niger River on Sunday after the boat they were traveling to exams capsized, Guinea’s education minister said.
The girls were crossing the Niger River in northeast Guinea to take the high school entrance exam starting on Monday.
“We were shocked by this bad news that seven schoolgirls have died,” Guillaume Huing, Minister of Literacy and Pre-University Education, told reporters during a visit to the region in connection with the start of the examination period.
Mamady Keita, a security official, told AFP that his half-sister was among the victims.
“She and her classmates went to the other side of the Niger River to take the first exams for admission to the seventh grade,” he added.
He stated that they “boarded the boat, which was overloaded and sank under the weight of passengers and cargo.”
A local source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the death toll is not final and that the search for bodies is still ongoing.