Fisherman on the banks of the Congo River. Picture: ALON SKUY
Fisherman on the banks of the Congo River. Picture: ALON SKUY

Kinshasa —  At least 60 people died when a passenger barge carrying more than 700 people capsized on the Congo River at night, the Democratic Republic of Congo's humanitarian affairs minister said on Monday.

About 300 survivors had been found near the scene of the accident in Mai-Ndombe province in the west of the country, but another 240 remained unaccounted for, Steve Mbikayi wrote on Twitter.

“So far the rescue team has recovered 60 bodies and 300 survivors. There are still several missing after this shipwreck,” Mbikayi said in an interview.

Boat accidents are a hazard in the vast mineral-rich country, which has few tarred roads across its  forested interior, and where vessels are often overloaded with passengers and cargo.

For most people the river and its tributaries are the only means of travelling long distances.

“We sympathise with the families of the victims and we demand sanctions against all those responsible for the transport sector,” Mbikayi said, without elaborating. No further details were immediately available.



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