28, May 2019
The death toll from a boat accident on a lake in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has risen to 45, with 200 people still missing.
According to the provincial governor, Antoine Masamba, the boat, bound for Boliangwa, was carrying more than 400 people when it sank on Saturday.
He said 11 children were among the dead.
The boat was sailing on Lake Mai-Ndombe in the country’s west after it hit “violent winds” a few kilometers before arriving at its destination on Saturday night, said mayor of the town of Innogo Simon Mbo Wemba.
Wemba also said police had arrested the captain of the boat and an investigation was ongoing. He said the boat had been registered as carrying 113 people while survivors said up to 400 were on board at the time of the accident. The mayor also said the boat had been “decrepit and unfit.”
Officials said the search and recovery operations could take between two and three weeks.
Boat accidents with high fatalities are common on waterways of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country, where passenger boats often sink due to the age of the vessels and their operators’ failure to follow rules of navigation, according to the World Health Organization.
Last month, at least 167 people died in two boat accidents in the country. President Felix Tshisekedi declared three days of national mourning after the disaster and made it mandatory for boat passengers to have life buoys.
It was, however, not clear if there were any on the boat that sank on Saturday.