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12.08.2019 Congo

Seven dead in DR Congo lake boat capsize

By AFP
Lake and river transport is widely used in DR Congo because the road system is so poor. Accidents are common - overloading and the poor state of boats are the main problems.  By Junior KANNAH (AFP)
AUG 12, 2019 CONGO
Lake and river transport is widely used in DR Congo because the road system is so poor. Accidents are common - overloading and the poor state of boats are the main problems. By Junior KANNAH (AFP)

Seven people drowned after a transport boat sank after hitting rocks on a lake in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the weekend, local authorities said on Monday.

Lake and river transport is widely used in the DRC as the highway system is poor, but accidents are common, often caused by overloading and the unsafe state of vessels.

The "total number of deaths is seven," the local minister of transport and communication in South Kivu province, Claude Swedy Basila said in a statement.

Authorities rescued 102 survivors, it said.

The private boat, carrying 110 passengers, mainly traders, was travelling to the island of Idjwi when it struck a rock Saturday before capsizing.

Saturday's disaster involved a "baleiniere" or "whaler" -- a commonly-used flat-bottomed vessel resembling a motorised canoe 15 to 30 metres (50 to 100 feet) long by two to six metres wide.

At least 30 people died and dozens more went missing in May after a boat accident on a lake in western DRC.

In the vast majority of accidents, passengers are not equipped with life jackets and many cannot swim.

Since the beginning of the year, at least 190 people have died in boat accidents in the DRC, according to an AFP count.

Earlier this year at least 167 people died in two accidents prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have lifejackets.

Sub-Saharan Africa's biggest country, the DRC is struggling with local conflicts, and in remote areas the control of the central government in Kinshasa is weak.

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