Congo – At Least 30 Dead, Dozens Missing in Boat Accident

At least 30 people have died and dozens more were missing on Sunday after a boat accident on Lake Mai-Ndombe in western Democratic Republic of Congo, a local mayor said.

“So far, we have recovered 30 bodies, 12 women, 11 children and seven men,” the mayor of Inongo, Simon Mbo Wemba, told Agence France-Presse, adding that there had been more than 350 passengers on the boat with only 183 survivors.

“The toll is still provisional,” he said, adding that it was difficult to know the exact number of passengers as many could have been illegal immigrants.

River transport is one of the most used in Congo, and boat mishaps are common. They are typically caused by overloading of passengers and cargo.

Death tolls are often high due to a lack of life jackets, and many Congolese do not know how to swim.

In April, at least 167 people died in two accidents prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have life buoys.

Twenty-seven people were reported drowned in a boat sinking in September last year, 26 last July, another 50 last May, and 40 people in April whose boats sank as they fled fighting.

Congo, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country, continues to struggle with local conflicts.