Sudan People's Liberation Army Colonel Philip Aguer said that all of the victims in the ferry accident were civilians, mostly women and children. The passengers were attempting to escape a rebel advance on Malakal, the capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile state. Although details of the accident were not yet clear, Aguer said "The boat was overloaded."
Malakal has been the site of continued fighting between government forces and rebel militias. On Tuesday, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Special Representative and Development and Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer reporter via Twitter an outbreak of fighting in Malakal.
Government forces and rebels have engaged in violent conflict since mid-December, resulting in the death of thousands and the displacement of 180,000 people.
[New York Times]