Over 80 Dead in Congo Boat Accident

(ReliableNews.org) – Overloading passengers in boats is often an issue in Congo. The government has blamed multiple boating accidents on the practice. Once again, it’s being blamed for the deaths of dozens.

On June 12, Congo President Félix Tshisekedi announced a boat capsized in the Kwa River in the Maï-Ndombe province. The vessel was carrying 271 people who were traveling to Congo’s capital city of Kinshasa when it sank on June 10.

The boat experienced engine troubles before it sank. At least 86 people drowned when the vessel went down. There was also another boat involved in the accident. The second one allegedly ran into the vessel experiencing engine troubles.

Tshisekedi posted a message on social media, saying he was “devastated.” He promised to launch an investigation to find out what happened and said the people impacted by the accident would receive help.

Boat accidents are very common in Congo. Operators often overload the vessels and don’t hand out life jackets to people who can’t swim. Officials have warned against the practice and said they would punish people who overload the boats. However, in remote areas, it’s still very common and people often travel by water because they can’t afford public transit. The boats are usually small and not well made.

In February, a wooden boat capsized while crossing Lake Kivu in the South Kivu province. There were approximately 50 people on the vessel at the time and only 10 people survived. In addition to having too many people onboard, the boat was also carrying bags of cement, which weighed it down even more.

The month before that accident, 22 others died when a boat went down on Lake Maî-Ndombe. And last year, another vessel sank on Lake Kivu. At the time, six bodies were recovered from the water but 64 people were missing.

Authorities have not announced the names or ages of the victims in the most recent accident.

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