Provincial authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo say 51 bodies were recovered and nearly 70 are believed to be missing after a makeshift boat capsized.
More than 50 people have died and more are believed to be missing after a makeshift boat capsized in the Congo River earlier this week, according to provincial authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Fifty-one bodies had been recovered Friday night from the ship that sank overnight Monday through Tuesday, and nearly 70 are believed to be missing, Néstor Magbado, spokesman for the governor of the northwestern province of Mongala, told AFP. . news agency on Saturday.
He said there were 39 survivors.
Without a passenger manifest on board, the number of missing is an estimate based on the ship’s capacity, he said.
The vessel consisted of nine traditional wooden canoes, known as pirogues, all tied together, Magbado said.
He added that the accident could have been caused by “overcrowding aggravated by bad weather” during the night.
The scale of the accident was unclear until it was reported by the media late on Friday and confirmed by provincial authorities on Saturday.
Magbado said authorities in Mongala had informed authorities in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, of the sinking just after it occurred, but had awaited more information on the number of victims.
Search and rescue operations continue, but hopes of finding more survivors are fading, he said.
Provincial authorities have declared three days of mourning starting Monday.
Boating accidents are common in the vast mineral-rich country because ships are often overloaded with passengers and cargo. Most of the passengers who travel in boats do not usually wear life jackets either.
At least 60 people died in February after a boat carrying 700 passengers capsized in the Congo River near the Longola Ekoti village in Mai-Ndombe province.
In January, at least three people, two children and a woman, drowned after a passenger ship sank in Lake Kivu.
In May 2020, 10 people, including an eight-year-old girl, died after the pleasure boat they were traveling in capsized in Lake Kivu. In July 2010, more than 135 people died after a boat capsized in the western province of Bandundu.