100 missing after boat capsizes in Congo: radio

Mon May 2, 2011 3:30pm EDT
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KINSHASA (Reuters) - About 100 people are missing after an overloaded boat capsized in the Democratic Republic of Congo, United Nations-backed Radio Okapi reported Monday.

Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende confirmed the incident, saying the boat should not have been carrying passengers and was not equipped for traveling after dark.

Mende could not confirm the number of people missing in the accident which, the radio said, took place overnight between Sunday and Monday.

"We do not have the exact number of people on board. 30 have been rescued and are safe but a good many more are missing," he told Reuters.

Survivors told the radio the boat was carrying about 300 people and sank on the Kasai River, some 50 km (31 miles) from the town of Tshikapa, due to overloading.

Last week at least 40 people died on Lake Kivu, in the country's east, when the boat they were traveling in capsized.

Rivers and lakes are vital transport routes for people and produce in the vast central African country, which has virtually no road network.

Accidents are common, often caused by poor maintenance and overcrowding.

(Reporting by Jonny Hogg; writing by David Lewis; editing by Andrew Heavens)