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Published:June 1st, 2010 18:39 EST

UN peacekeepers Help With Rescue Efforts After Ship Sinks Off Liberian Coast

By SOP newswire3

1 June 2010 " United Nations peacekeepers serving in Liberia have joined in search and rescue efforts off the coast of the West African country after a ship sank overnight, with many passengers reported missing.

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) dispatched two helicopters this morning to help search for survivors and debris from the Hevea, which issued a distress signal late last night while south of Harper, a major port close to Liberia`s border with Côte d`Ivoire.

UN Police (UNPOL) have also been sent to Harper to help local authorities, which are coordinating rescue and relief efforts on the ground with the assistance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Media reports indicate at least 11 people remain missing after the sinking, while as many as 16 people have been rescued. The boat had been travelling from Monrovia, the capital, to Harper.

Yasmina Bouziane, a spokesperson for UNMIL, told the UN News Centre that the mission responded quickly after authorities issued a request for assistance this morning.

We do have that quick response capacity here and so we responded most seriously and most quickly " It`s really important to be able to assist any individual civilians who are in distress or at risk, " she said.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34878&Cr=liberia&Cr1=