Thirty-six people have been declared missing when a cargo and passenger ship sank on the Congo River in the Kinshasa region, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, police announced on Sunday.
The death toll from the sinking of a “whaling ship” in Congo is “36 missing persons and 76 survivors”, police reported on twitter. The tragedy occurred “on the night of Saturday to Sunday. The causes of the accident are not yet known,” said Colonel Pierrot-Rombaut Mwanamputu, police spokesman.
The boat from Mai-Ndombe (west) to Kinshasa sank in the commune of Maluku, located about 100 km from the city centre, place where the current of the great river is strong.
Accidents are frequent on DRC’s waterways due to the dilapidated state of the boats, their overloading of passengers and freight and the lack of buoy-age.
The assessments are aggravated by the fact that in the majority of cases, passengers do not wear lifejackets and most do not know how to swim.
The DRC, a 2.3 million square kilometre country in Central Africa, has very few good roads. Travel is often done on Congo’s tributaries and lakes.
Due to the scarcity of regular company boats, local residents resort to motorised pirogues or other “whaleboats”, a kind of barge where hundreds of people crowd.
In August, at least 15 people died in a motorised pirogue shipwreck in Bukavu on Lake Kivu (east).