Provincial authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have reported a casualty of 51 persons and over 70 others missing after a ship capsized in the Congo River on October 4, 2021.
51 bodies were recovered late on Friday from the boat that sank during the night of Monday to Tuesday, according to Nestor Magbado, a spokesman for the governor of the northwestern province of Mongala.
Magbado added that there were only 39 survivors.
The scale of the accident is still unclear as no manifest of the passengers has been found at the time of this report. Authorities claim the number of those missing is estimated based on the capacity of the boat.
Magbado said the Mongala authorities had informed authorities in the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, of the sinking just after it occurred, but had waited for more information about the number of casualties.
Search and rescue operations are continuing, but hopes are fading of finding more survivors, he said.
Provincial authorities have declared three days of mourning from Monday.
Boat accidents are common in the vast mineral-rich country because vessels are often overloaded with passengers and cargo. Most of the passengers travelling on vessels also often do not wear life jackets.
At least 60 people died in February after a vessel carrying 700 passengers capsized on the Congo River near the village of Longola Ekoti, in Mai-Ndombe province.
In January, at least three people, two children and one woman, drowned after a passenger boat sank in Lake Kivu.
In May 2020, 10 people, including an eight-year-old girl, died after the leisure boat they were travelling on capsized in Lake Kivu. In July 2010, more than 135 people died after a boat capsized in the western province of Bandundu.