More than 50 people were reported dead and 70 missing after a makeshift vessel sank on the Congo River earlier this week, provincial authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed Saturday.
Fifty-one bodies were recovered by late Friday following the accident that occurred overnight Monday. About 70 people are believed missing, according to Nestor Magbado, spokesman for the northwestern province of Mongala’s governor.
Noting that 39 people were rescued, he told reporters there was no clear manifest of passengers on board and the number missing was estimated based on the boat’s capacity.
Nine traditional wooden canoes had reportedly been tied together to form the vessel.
Magbado said the accident could have been caused by overcrowding and bad weather that affected the river at night.
The accident was first reported Friday but without a clear picture of the number of victims.
Magbado said search and rescue operations were still underway but with little hope of finding survivors.
Three days of mourning have been declared starting Monday.
In February, 60 people died after a vessel with 700 passengers capsized on the Congo River in Mai-Ndombe province.
Three people, including two children and a woman, drowned after a passenger boat sank in Lake Kivu in January. And in May 2020, 10 people drowned after a leisure boat capsized on Lake Kivu.