Fifty dead after boat capsizes in DRC river

Search and rescue missions under way as authorities look for survivors after boat capsizes in Mombovo River.

DRC Congo boat capsize
Accidents on the DRC's rivers and lakes are a frequent hazard [File: EPA]

At least 50 people have died in a boat accident in the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to officials.

The boat which had been transporting passengers and goods tipped over in the Mombovo River as it made its way from Monkoto to Mbadanka on Wednesday night.

“We found 49 bodies on Thursday and another one this morning,” Tshuapa Vice-Governor Richard Mboyo Iluka was quoted as saying on Friday by AFP news agency.

It was still not clear how many people were on board or how many had survived, with search and rescue missions still under way. 

“The causes of the sinking and the number of people missing are not yet known. The provincial government has already sent a team to find out more,” Mboyo said.

He pointed out that the boat had been travelling by night and without light, which is illegal under government safety measures.

River transport is common in the DRC, where fewer roads mean travellers often have no option but to rely on boats as a low-cost form of transportation.

Accidents on the country’s rivers and lakes are a frequent hazard, due to dilapidated boats, overloading and a lack of safety equipment.

Earlier in February, at least 14 people were reported missing after two boats collided.

The DRC is currently is also having to deal with an Ebola outbreak with 31 confirmed cases and another 21 described as either probable or suspected. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies