30 Dead, More Than 150 Missing After Boat Sinks on Congo Lake

May 27, 2019 Updated: May 27, 2019

KINSHASA, Congo—Thirty people are dead, and dozens of passengers are missing after a boat carrying more than 350 passengers capsized on a lake in the Democratic Republic of Congo, local officials told CNN on Monday.

“So far, we have recovered 30 bodies: 12 women, 11 children and seven men,” Simon Mbo Wemba, the mayor of the town of Innogo in western Congo said, according to the Independent.

Wemba told CNN local divers leading the search operation have also found 183 survivors from the site of the sinking.

Wemba said the overloaded vessel departed from Innogo but sank off Lake Mai-Ndombe in the country’s west after it hit “violent winds” a few kilometers before arriving at its destination Saturday night.

“There are 183 survivors, but the ship had more than 350 people on board. This is provisional as we are still working day and night looking for more people,” Wemba said.

Boat accidents with high fatalities are common on Congo waterways, where water is a major form of transport for many living in rural areas.

“Lake Mai-Ndombe is about 100 miles east of Yumbi, a town where violence between the Bununu and Batende ethnic groups flared a few weeks before the country’s presidential election in December, leaving nearly 900 people dead,” the New York Times reported.

‘Fatal Boat Accidents Are Not Uncommon’

In 2015, more than 100 people were declared missing after two boats collided on the Congo River in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

The agency said passenger boats often sink in Congo due to the age of the vessels and their operators’ failure to follow rules of navigation.

As many as 150 people went missing after a boat sank on a lake in eastern Congo in April.

President Felix Tshisekedi declared three days of national mourning after the boat disaster and said all boats plying its waterways must have life buoys.

Boat Capsized on Lake Albert

Last week, on Sunday, May 20, 8 bodies have been recovered and many passengers were missing after a boat carrying members of a local soccer club capsized on Lake Albert in Uganda, authorities said Monday.

Lake Albert in Uganda. (Photo via CNN)

Fishermen and a marine unit have rescued more than 30 people from the scene of Sunday’s accident, said Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga.

Players and fans were traveling to a match when the boat capsized during a thunderstorm just a few minutes after it left the dock in the district of Hoima, in western Uganda.

NTD News staff contributed to this article.

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