Over 80 Dead in Congo Boating Accident

(RepublicanDaily.org) – The River Kwa in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become the site of a tragic boating accident that has claimed the lives of 80 people so far.

According to officials, the problem started when a vessel bound for Kinshasa, the country’s capital, lost engine power enroute to its destination. The accident occurred at night, when the boat was struck by a second vessel.

The governor of Congo’s Mai-Ndombe province, Rita Bola Dula, attributed the accident to the fact that the events surrounding the incident happened at nighttime. Dula also added that efforts are underway to find and rescue survivors if there are any, as well the extrication of the remains of the victims who died in the accident. All in all, the boat carried a total of 271 passengers. Eighty-six are presumed dead, while the other 185 people were able to swim to the shore, according to Ren Maker, an official of the Congolese riverways authority who serves as the water commissioner for the area where the accident occurred.

Using boats as a mode of transport is commonplace in Congo, where there are only a few roads on land that vehicles can safely pass through with any regularity. However, one issue often seen in boats that ply the River Kwa and other bodies of water in the Congo is overloading, where vessels carry more bodies aboard than what is safely allowed. The overweight vessels have been behind or have been involved in numerous watercraft accidents in Congo’s waterways. Just last February, almost all 50 passengers in a boat sailing through Congo’s Lake Kivu were killed when the vessel capsized due to overloading.

The incident, which has generated international buzz, has also put a spotlight on the performance of the country’s president, Felix Tshisekedi, who is calling for a deeper investigation in an attempt to “prevent such a disaster from happening again in the future.”

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