More than 130 feared dead in DR Congo boat accident on Kasai River

16:54, May 03, 2011      

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More than 130 people are feared dead in a boat accident on the Kasai River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), one week after a similar wreckage occurred on Lake Kivu.

The authorities of Kasai Occidental province said the overloaded boat capsized at about 100 km from Tshikapa between Sunday night and Monday morning.

Richard Kabongo, a businessman and boat owner, said the wreckage is likely to have caused more than 130 deaths.

He confirmed to Xinhua that about ten people were rescued. He equally affirmed that over 300 people were onboard the ill fated boat.

"The death toll is likely to be higher because at the moment, we are not counting those people who perished while swimming to the shore without any safety equipment," he said.

Contacted at night, Mayele Nzoloko, an officer of the country's Waterways Authority (RVF), said overloading, the poor state of the boat and bad weather were the main reasons for the accident.

In addition, he said, there was also the problem of bad navigation routes in DR Congo's waters.

The RVF management reported this was the 12th boat accident in DR Congo since the beginning of the year.

Sunday's accident followed the wreckage on Lake Kivu on April 25, when a motor boat capsized killing more than 100 people.

According to South Kivu provincial authorities, out of the 115 passengers on board, only 10 were rescued, and some bodies have not yet been found until today.

The chairman of boat owners in South Kivu, Edouard Pamba, told Xinhua that overloading and bad weather were the causes of the April 25 accident.

"Even though all the goods were thrown into the water to make the boat lighter, it still capsized," Pamba said last week.

A parliamentarian from South Kivu, Albert Kasongo, said these accidents happened because traders and residents were forced to use waterways as a means of transporting their products due to the absence of good roads linking South Kivu to North Kivu provinces.

Source: Xinhua
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