Eleven people have drowned and dozens are missing after a barge sank on a river in central Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said Tuesday.
Sixteen people survived the accident on the overcrowded vessel by swimming to safety on the Lukenye river, a journalist working for a local community radio told AFP.
The disaster – the latest in a string of deadly accidents in Congolese waters – occurred a week ago in a remote and densely forested region of Kasai province where rivers are the main means of transport due to a lack of drivable roads.
“We have recovered 11 bodies and about 50 people are missing,” Kasai governor Dieudonne Pieme told AFP.
The local journalist said most of those on board were travelling to the DR Congo capital of Kinshasa.
Boat accidents are common in the vast country, typically caused by overloading of passengers and cargo.
Tolls are often high because there are no life jackets and many Congolese do not know how to swim.
In May, 32 people died in a boat accident on Lake Mai-Ndombe in the west of the country.
In April, at least 167 people died in two accidents, prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have lifebuoys.