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A boat headed for market laden with merchandise and vendors capsized in the Niger River in Mali, claiming about a dozen lives, authorities said Monday.

The victims had been on their way Sunday to a weekly market in Markala, in central Mali, where people from surrounding villages sell and buy goods.

The boat sank about five kilometres (3.1 miles) from its destination, the transport ministry said in a statement, blaming overloading.

The ministry spoke of nine dead and six survivors, but a Markala official said more had lost their lives, including a child of about six months.

“The craft was overloaded,” added Abdoulaye Saye, a local councillor. “There was too much merchandise” which the occupants of the boat had planned on selling at the market.

In October, 26 people died when two boats capsized on the Niger River near Timbuktu.

(AFP)