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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 18:06 GMT
River ferry capsizes in DR Congo
Map showing location of accident in DR Congo
About 60 people are feared to have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a barge loaded with passengers and goods capsized.

The accident happened in the early hours of Monday morning on the Kasai River near the town of Tshikapa, in the west of DR Congo.

The boat was reportedly overcrowded, with about 100 passengers on board. Some 40 people managed to swim ashore.

Congolese ferries are notorious for overcrowding and poor maintenance.

Waterways

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in the capital, Kinshasa, reports that the bodies of 23 of the dead have been found.

The Mayor of the town of Tshikapa, Hubert Ndingo, told Reuters news agency that no-one could be sure how many people were on board the vessel.

"These were mostly women who were bringing agricultural produce to the market in Tshikapa, and they could not swim, so many will have died," he said.

DR Congo's waterways are the main method of travel and transporting goods between cities and towns in Africa's third largest nation.

Traffic has already resumed along the Kasai River.

Many of the country's roads are unpaved and in bad condition, leading most to rely on the waterways and the often overcrowded ferries and barges that travel along them.

In November last year, more than 200 people died when a ferry sank during a storm in the country, and in April up to 50 were killed when an overcrowded ferry sank in Lake Tanganyika, which separates DR Congo from Burundi and Tanzania.


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
06 Nov 04 |  Country profiles



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