Boat fire on Congo River kills at least seven

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2015 11:23 AM

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Seven people died and 14 more are missing after a boat carrying cargo and passengers caught fire on the Congo River in northern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said on Tuesday.

The engine caught fire on Monday evening as the boat passed the town of Lokutu en route from Basoko to the provincial capital of Kisangani, said assistant commissioner of Tshopo district Roger Sende Nange.

Another 41 passengers escaped, he said.

United Nations-sponsored Radio Okapi cited witnesses who said about 100 people died. Boat manifests in Congo often understate the number of passengers. Dozens died near Kisangani in December when a similar boat hit a rock and sank.

The Congo River runs for more than 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) and is central to commerce and transport in a country with few paved roads.

(Reporting By Bienvenu-Marie Bakumanya; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Raissa Kasolowsky)