By Devin Watkins
A boat carrying some 40 children to school in northern Sudan sank on Wednesday while crossing the Nile River.
At least 24 children and a local health worker died in the incident. The children were between the ages of 7 and 16.
The boat’s engine failed in a strong current while crossing a 2.5-kilometer flooded section of the Nile.
The headmaster of the Kenba High School, Ab el-Khayr Adam Yunis, told the BBC that the Sudanese students usually go to school on foot but that heavy rain and flooding have forced them to go by boat for the past week.
He said the children began to panic when the engine failed and leaned to one side, causing the boat to overturn.
Flooding had disrupted the local telephone network, the headmaster said, making it difficult to call in rescue teams. It took several hours for help to arrive.
Residents of the area are mostly from the Manaseer tribe.
Locals say the construction of a controversial dam on the Nile River has increased concerns about the flooding of their land.
The headmaster said the students who died in the tragedy were mostly girls.