At least 45 killed as Congo boat sinks

Fri Jul 25, 10:36 AM ET

At least 45 people were killed and another 100 were missing after a boat sank on a remote stretch of river in Democratic Republic of Congo, a local government official said on Friday.

The boat sank on Tuesday night on the Ubangi river, which forms part of the frontier between Congo and Central African Republic.

“Forty-five bodies have been recovered so far,” said Mathieu Bela, district commissioner for North Ubangi in the far north of Congo. Another 112 were missing while 25 passengers survived, he added.

“The passengers were fishermen and people living by the river,” he said. “The accident happened on Tuesday night when the boat struck a rock in the dark. There are no signs or signals, which does nothing to help navigation.”

Bela said local authorities had not received any help from the government of either Congo or Central African Republic due to the lack of information and inaccessibility.

The fishermen were among dozens of people who were using the motorized canoe to cross the river.

Fishermen regularly join traders on overloaded boats crossing the Ubangi river to ferry their catch and various other goods to markets in both countries.

Congo is a vast mineral-rich nation but roads are almost non-existent outside the main towns so travel is often limited to airplanes and boats plying its huge network of rivers.

Accidents are frequent due to over-loading and lack of maintenance.

(Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Alistair Thomson and Matthew Tostevin);_ylt=AqZdNVrjAgUHeUQehVt4_Qa96Q8F


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