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Dozens more feared dead in Sierra Leone boat wreck

* Manifest says 200, not 150, on boat that capsized

* Only 40 rescued so far, families search for survivors

FREETOWN, Sept 10 (Reuters) - The death toll in a shipwreck in Sierra Leone could rise from the 80 victims reported earlier as dozens of passengers are still missing, a maritime official said on Thursday.

The boat, orginally thought to be carrying 150 people, mostly children returning from their school holidays, was caught in a heavy storm off the capital, Freetown, on Tuesday.

But the harbourmaster at Tombo suburb said on Thursday there were more passengers on board than previously thought.

"The manifest that I received as harbour master indicates that there were over 200 passengers," Samuel Bangura said.

""We have been able to fish out a total of 12 bodies. The number of rescued has increased to 40. The rest remain missing."

There has been no official explanation for the accident, the worst since a boat full of refugees fleeing Sierra Leone's decade-long war that ended in 2002 drowned. But overcrowding and a lack of safety measures are often blamed.

Hundreds of relatives rushed from Waterloo, the boat's departure point 12 km (8 miles) from Freetown, to Tombo in search of survivors.

"I only saw my son two months ago when he left Tombo by a boat for holidays. Yesterday I received from his mother news about the shock death of our son," Ali Toure, father of 11 year-old John Turay, told Reuters.

Most passenger and fishing boats that usually ply the waters off Sierra Leone have remained on shore due to poor weather.

West Africa is currently being battered by the seasonal rains and storms that have killed about 160 people on land and displaced tens of thousands more, prompting governments across the region to seek international assistance. (Reporting by Christo Johnson; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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