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DR Congo Shipwreck Toll Rises to at Least 47, Dozens Missing

The death toll from the sinking of a boat in the Congo river last week has risen to 47, with many people still missing, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s transport minister said Monday.

The initial report by authorities from the northwest Equateur province on Sunday said 28 bodies had been pulled from the river and dozens more were missing.

Speaking to a press briefing on Monday, Transport Minister Marc Ekila confirmed the new toll, but said “we were unable to get the records to determine the exact number of passengers on board” due to an “irregular situation”.

The accident was due to “overloading”, the minister said, while adding that “wooden boats” were not authorised to operate at night.

The large riverboat left the city of Mbandaka for the Bolomba Territory in DRC‘s Equateur province late Friday night.

“We have asked provincial authorities to set up a commission of inquiry,” Ekila said.

The vast Central African nation has few practicable roads, so travel often occurs on lakes, the Congo River and its tributaries, where shipwrecks are frequent and the toll often heavy.

President Felix Tshisekedi told ministers Friday to “do everything possible to avoid shipwrecks… the main causes of which are overloading of passenger and merchandise, poor marking of waterways, night-time navigation, and the non-compliance of boats with regulations”, according to minutes from the meeting.

Tshisekedi, who has been in power since 2019 and is seeking re-election this December, said the country needed “an action plan” to ensure the Congo river plays a “driving role in economic development”.

Source : France24