150 missing after eastern Congo shipwreck


Lake Kivu is seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 25, 2016.
FILE PHOTO | Lake Kivu is seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 25, 2016.

About 150 people are missing after a boat sunk on a lake in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, President Felix Tshisekedi said on Tuesday.

“I am very saddened by the shipwreck of a pirogue on (Monday) April 15 on Lake Kivu. The provisional toll is 150 people missing,” Tshisekedi said on his office’s Twitter account.

Delphin Mbirimbi, a local activist in South Kivu province, told Reuters that the boat, which had departed from neighbouring North Kivu province, wrecked on the lake near Kalehe territory.

He said three bodies had been recovered, 33 people had been rescued and another 150 passengers were missing following the eastern Congo shipwreck.

Tshisekedi said he was following the situation closely “in order to identify and sanction those responsible”.

Deadly boat accidents are common in Congo, a vast, forested country which has few roads outside of major towns and where boats are frequently loaded well beyond their capacity.

Last year, a boat tipped over in a river in northern Democratic Republic of Congo, drowning 49 people on board while about the same number survived the accident.

Richard Mboyo Iluka, vice governor of remote Tshuapa province, in northern Congo, told Radio Top Congo that the whaleboat had sunk with all of its passengers late on Wednesday.

Deadly boat accidents are common in Congo, a vast, forested country which has few roads outside of major towns and is carved up by a network of rivers that drain the Congo Basin. For most people these rivers are the only means of travelling over long distances.

In 2015, up to 100 people were feared missing after two boats collided on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization said.

Eugene Kabambi, a WHO spokesman in the country’s capital, Kinshasa, told CNN that the wreck occurred at a resort downstream of the town of Kwamouth, when an overloaded barge en route to Inongo collided with a boat carrying 150 people.

In July 2011, over 100 people were killed after two boats collided on on a river in the Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Two months earlier, the then Congo President Joseph Kabila had sacked his Transport Minister after a series of boat accidents killed more than 100 people.

Additional report from CNN

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