At least 50 dead in DR Congo shipwreck

Last Updated: Friday, July 29, 2011 - 23:58

Kinshasa: At least 50 people drowned and
some 35 are reported missing after a boat accident on a river
in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the
Equateur province government said on Friday.

The vessel, which was wrecked late Tuesday, was
carrying at least 200 passengers and "up to yesterday
(Thursday) we counted 115 survivors and 50 bodies fished from
the water with difficulty," the government spokeswoman said. "The others are certainly lost or were dragged down by
the water."

The large motorised barge, which was also carrying
goods, collided during the night with another boat, which was
empty, on the Tshuapa river, 115 kilometres east of the
provincial capital Mbandaka, spokeswoman Rebecca Ebale Nguma
said.

"The boat`s manifesto indicated that 200 people were
on board, but some of the survivors say there were about 350
people," Nguma added.

Overloading boats is a common practice in the DR
Congo, and is also one of the main causes of the many
shipwrecks in the vast central African country, which is
studded with lakes and rivers. The mighty Congo river itself
is one of the main transport routes.

Accidents are also caused by the bad or absent
signposting of waterways, the inexperience of pilots and the
lack of lights on boats. Many vessels carry no lifebelts or
lifejackets.

After a spate of accidents on waterways at the end of
April and early in May, transport minister Marie-Laure Kawanda
was sacked from her post.

PTI



First Published: Friday, July 29, 2011 - 23:58

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