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Hundreds die on ferry while fleeing battle in South Sudan

People displaced by fighting in South Sudan have sought safety by piling onto boats like this one on Jan. 9. Over the weekend, an overloaded ferry sank.
People displaced by fighting in South Sudan have sought safety by piling onto boats like this one on Jan. 9. Over the weekend, an overloaded ferry sank.AFP/Getty Images

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NAIROBI — It happened during a panic that has unfolded with frightening regularity in recent weeks. Fighters were advancing. Crowds of civilians fled to the river to escape the violence, rushing into barges to cross the White Nile. Amid the frenzy, officials said Tuesday, more than 200 people were killed when the ferry carrying them to safety went down.

After a month of fighting in South Sudan, nearly half a million people have fled their homes and thousands have been killed. Many have sought safety by crowding onto boats, with witnesses describing passengers’ being crushed or falling overboard and drowning in the rush to escape. But the recent accident, which officials said took place over the weekend, is the worst reported in the conflict.

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