At least 28 bodies were recovered and dozens of people were missing after a whaleboat sank Friday on the Congo River, in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, we learned on Sunday from a provincial official.
A whaleboat which was leaving Mbandaka for the territory of Bolomba , in the province of Équateur (north-west), was shipwreck during the night from Friday to Saturday.
“The provisional toll is 28 bodies recovered, dozens of people are still missing and the search continues ,” declared Chrispin Mputu, Minister of the Interior of the province of Équateur, interviewed by AFP.
The total number of passengers who took place on board the boat was not yet established in the absence of the "manifesto (the document containing the list of passengers) which has disappeared" , explained Minister Mputu, contacted by telephone from Kinshasa.
A civil society organization puts forward a much heavier toll.
“Our teams counted up to 49 bodies yesterday and this morning, another was recovered from the water, bringing the death toll to 50,” Joseph Boyoko Lokondo, one of the leaders of the “Génération” organization, told AFP. conscious" of the province of Équateur, a pressure group.
“So far, around a hundred people are missing, they are missing,” he explained, adding that “between 20 and 30 survivors (were) still at the port, they lost everything” . The whaleboat "was carrying more than 200 passengers, cargo and construction equipment" for a government program, Boyoko added.
According to UN radio Okapi , "the whaleboat had difficulty moving forward because of the overload" .
Congolese opponent Moïse Katumbi , declared candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for December 20 in the DRC, said he was "saddened" by "this drama" which he presents as "the direct consequence of the resignation of the government which tolerates night navigation of dilapidated and overloaded boats .
A large country in Central Africa, the DRC has very few passable roads and travel is often made on lakes as well as on the Congo River and its tributaries, where shipwrecks are frequent. The results are often heavy.
In 2019, a shipwreck on Lake Kivu left around a hundred dead in the Kalehe territory, in the east of the country. President Félix Tshisekedi, who visited the site, then decreed "the compulsory wearing of life jackets" for each passenger, a measure rarely respected, and promised new boats, which are still awaited.