60 dead, 240 missing as overloaded boat sinks in DR Congo

At least 60 people died after a boat carrying more than 700 people sank on the Congo river, Democratic Republic of the Congo’s humanitarian affairs minister said on Monday.

“60 bodies already recovered and 300 rescued,” Steve Mbikayi said on Twitter.

“We sympathize with the families affected and demand sanctions against all those responsible in the transportation sector,” he added.

The accident apparently happened in the night of Sunday overlooking Monday, near the village of Longola Ekoti in the province of Mai-Ndombe, a few kilometers from Kinshasa, the country’s capital city.

Some 240 people were still unaccounted for, an international news agency quoted Mbikayi as saying.

The minister blamed the excess number of passengers on the boat and the fact it was overloaded with goods for the sinking, adding that night navigation also played a role.

Deadly boat accidents are common in DR Congo, which has few tarred roads across its vast, forested interior and where vessels are frequently loaded well beyond their capacity as waterways and its tributaries are the only means of travelling long distances.

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