DR Congo + 1 more

Up to 150 drown in Burundi as boat capsizes

BUJUMBURA, March 24 (Reuters) - Up to 150 Congolese drowned after an overloaded ferry carrying around 200 passengers capsized in bad weather on East Africa's Lake Tanganyika at the weekend, port and militia officials said on Monday.
The Congolese-owned ferry "MV Kasobwe" was on its way from Kalemie in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to Uvira, a town in the north of the country, when it hit heavy winds and capsized in Burundian waters early on Sunday.

"There were 150 passengers who died and 39 rescued by the Burundi marines," Amongi Ngombe, the director of Kalundu port in Uvira, told Reuters.

The lake - narrow, but the longest in the world at 677 km (423 miles) - borders Congo, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia. Ngombe said the boat overturned near the southern Burundian town of Nyanza Lac.

A spokesman for a Congolese rebel group that controls much of eastern Congo put the number of drowned at 109, with 41 survivors, and said many bodies had not been recovered.

Speaking in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga of the Rwandan-backed Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD-GOMA) said his group had lost 10 soldiers in the accident.

The boat had been loaded down with potatoes, cassava, fish and maize as well as passengers, he added.

The accident is the latest in a string of ferry disasters in Africa. The worst was last September, when more than 1,000 people died after a Senegalese ferry carrying twice the number of people it was built for overturned in heavy seas off Gambia.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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