Congo river disaster: at least 60 dead and hundreds missing after ‘overloaded’ boat sinks

Une embarcation sur le fleuve Congo.

At least 60 people have died and hundreds more are missing after an overloaded whaling boat sank on the Congo river at night, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s humanitarian affairs minister has said.

Minister Steve Mbikayi said more than 700 people had been aboard the vessel but that only 300 survivors had been found so far at the site of the disaster in Mai-Ndombe province in the west of the country.

The vessel was sailing through the night on Sunday from Kinshasa to Mbandaka when it ran into trouble near the village of Longola Ekoti in the province of Mai-Ndombe.

The minister told al-Jazeera the main cause of the sinking was too many passengers and cargo on the vessel, adding that “night navigation also played a role”.

Mbikayi offered condolences to the families affected and called for sanctions against those in the transport sector found to be involved.

Deadly boat accidents are common in Congo, which has few tarred roads across its vast, forested interior and where vessels are frequently loaded well beyond their capacity.

For most people the Congo river and its tributaries are the only means of travelling long distances.

With Reuters

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/16/congo-river-boat-sinks-deaths-missing

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