60 killed, hundreds missing after boat capsizes in Congo

At least 60 people have been killed and several hundred more are missing after a large boat sank on Lake Mai-Ndombe in western Democratic Republic of Congo, a government official said on Monday.

The overloaded boat had sailed on Sunday night and was carrying more than 700 passengers, minister of humanitarian actions Steve Mbikayi told dpa.

“60 bodies have already been found, with 300 survivors,” said Mbikayi.

The boat had left the capital Kinshasa earlier on Sunday and capsized near the village of Longola Ekoti, the minister said.

“We sympathize with the bereaved families and demand sanctions against all those responsible in the transport sector,” Mbikayi said on Twitter.

Boat accidents due to overcrowding occur frequently across Africa, where many people use ships as a mode of day-to-day transport.

In January, more than 40 people were killed after a motorized wooden boat, carrying 250 people at double its capacity, capsized on Lake Kivu in Eastern Congo.

In October 2020, at least 73 people died in several boat accidents within a timespan of two weeks on the Lulonga River in Equateur Province.

Similarly in May 2019, at least 45 people died and 200 remained missing after a vessel carrying more than 400 people capsized.