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At least 80 passengers killed in the latest boat accident in Congo

At least 80 passengers killed in the latest boat accident in Congo
Bangladeshi rescuers search for bodies on the banks of the River Surma in Sunamganj district, about 175 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of the capital, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sun   -  
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Anis Mahmud/AP2010

Democratic Republic Of Congo

A boat carrying more than 270 passengers has capsized on a river near Congo's capital of Kinshasa, leaving more than 80 dead, President Félix Tshisekedi said Wednesday.

It was the latest deadly boat accident in the central African country where overloading is often blamed, including in February when dozens lost their lives after an overloaded boat sank.

A statement quoting Tshisekedi said the locally made boat capsized late Monday in Maï-Ndombe province along the Kwa River.

The boat was carrying 271 passengers to Kinshasa when it broke down due to an engine failure, according to the U.N.-backed Radio Okapi, citing Ren Maker, the water commissioner in the Mushi district where the accident happened.

Eighty-six of the passengers died while 185 managed to swim ashore, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) near the closest city of Mushie, Maker said.

He said the boat hit the edge of the river bank and broke up.

Congolese officials have often warned against overloading and vowed to punish those violating safety measures for water transportation. But in remote areas where most passengers come from, many are unable to afford public transport for the few available roads.

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