Around 100 feared dead in DR Congo boat collision

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 29, 2011 2:17 PM
Around 100 feared dead in DR Congo boat collision

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Around 100 people were feared dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday after the latest in a string of boat accidents in the central African country, officials said.

"We've counted 110 survivors out of over 200 that were on the canoe," said Rebecca Ebale, local communications minister for the northern Equateur province where the collision with a second boat took place on the Ruki river late on Tuesday.

Ebale told Reuters by telephone that around 50 bodies had already been recovered.

Alfred Lompaka, a survivor, said the damaged boat was a local construction made of three large motorized canoes and designed to maximize capacity for passengers and produce. It was sailing in the dark without lights, as was the second boat, which was able to continue its journey.

Boat accidents are common in Congo, often caused by poor maintenance and overcrowding. Rivers and lakes are vital transport routes for people and produce in the heavily forested nation, which has virtually no road network.

In May, President Joseph Kabila sacked his transport minister after a series of boat accidents killed more than 100 people.

(Reporting by Bienvenu-Marie Bakumanya; Writing by Bate Felix; editing by Myra MacDonald)