Boat accident in Democratic Republic of the Congo kills at least 73

Monday, November 30, 2009

A boat sank in the western Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, killing at least 73 people, according to reports.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says the cargo boat was carrying passengers, as well as logs, when it sank in Lake Mai-Ndombe in the Bandundu province, apparently due to inclement weather. Local reports say the vessel was not authorized to carry passengers.

The Red Cross announced 272 people survived the accident, but others remain missing and it is feared their bodies are trapped underneath the sunken barge.

"We are at 272 survivors and 73 dead. These are bodies that we have found along the shores of the lake. There are still some people missing. But we don't know how many because there was no ship's manifest," said Dominic Lutula, the president of the Congolese Red Cross, said to the Reuters news agency.

Boat accidents are fairly common in the Democratic Republic of Congo because vessels are often overloaded and not properly maintained. The country has many rivers but few paved roads, forcing many people to rely on boats for transportation.