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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 12:06 GMT
Timeline: Africa's ferry disasters
Joola ferry
More people died in the Joola than the Titanic
More than 200 people have died in two separate boat accidents in Africa this week - 40 in Zambia and 163 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Both boats were reported to be overloaded - a common occurrence on Africa's waterways.

Where there are rivers or seas, ferries provide a cheaper and often faster alternative to travel on Africa's pot-holed roads or expensive flights.

But as well as ignoring safety capacities, many boat operators do not carry out regular maintenance.

BBC News Online looks back at similar tragedies in the recent past.

Senegal, October 2002

Africa's worst maritime disaster claimed some 1,800 lives - more than were lost in the Titanic.

The Joola was built to carry 500 passengers but was hugely overcrowded and capsized in a ferocious storm.

It took nine hours for the search and rescue operations to begin after officials left their desks unmanned overnight.

Just 60 people survived.

The head of the navy, which operated the boat, was sacked, along with the ministers for armed forces and transport and other officials.

The Joola was the most popular link between the southern region of Casamance and the capital, Dakar, which are separated by another country - The Gambia.

DR Congo, November 2003

On Tuesday, two boats collided in bad weather on Lake Mayi Ndombe, about 400 kilometres north-east of the capital, Kinshasa.

Some 163 bodies have been recovered and 222 survivors found.

Boats are a common form of transport in DR Congo, a country the size of western Europe which has few roads after years of war and chronic mismanagement.

But accidents are common due to overcrowding and poor maintenance.

Zambia, November 2003

On Monday, up to 40 people, mostly women and children died when a wooden boat capsized and they jumped into Lake Mweru, near the border with DR Congo.

Survivors say the boat, taking fishermen and traders to islands, was overloaded.

Burundi, March 2003

More than 100 people drowned when an overcrowded boat, the Kashowgwe, capsized in stormy waters on Lake Tanganyika.

The boat was travelling between two towns in DR Congo but capsized off the Burundi coast.

Tanzania, January 2003

Up to 40 people died after a boat capsized off the Tanzanian coast.

The boat was carrying a wedding party from the mainland to the island of Pemba.

Somalia, January 2003

At least 80 people, mostly Somalis and Ethiopians, died when their boat caught fire on its way to Yemen.

Rickety boats crossing the Red Sea, taking Somali refugees to Yemen, often get into difficulties.

In November 2002, up to 30 people were feared dead after their lost power and drifted for a week, with no drinking water or food on board.

Pirates also operate in the area, adding to the hazards of travelling by boat from Somalia.


SEE ALSO:
Zambia ferry tragedy 'kills 40'
26 Nov 03  |  Africa
Senegal remembers ferry tragedy
26 Sep 03  |  Africa


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