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Over 80 dead in latest Congo boat accident

A boat carrying more than 270 passengers capsized on a river near the Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, killing more than 80 people, President Felix Tshisekedi said on Wednesday.

It is the latest deadly shipping accident in the Central African country often blamed on overloading, following the sinking of an overloaded vessel in February, killing dozens.

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It quoted Tshisekedi as saying that the locally made boat capsized late on Monday along Kwa River in Mai Ndombe province.

The flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is seen in Beijing on May 26, 2023. (Photo: Wang Xin/VCG)

The boat was heading to Kinshasa with 271 passengers on board when it broke down due to engine failure, UN-backed Radio Okapi quoted Len Marker, head of the water department in Musi district where the accident occurred, as saying.

Maker said 86 passengers died and 185 managed to swim to the shore about 43 miles offshore in the nearest city, Mussie.

He said the boat hit the edge of the riverbank and broke up.

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Congolese authorities have repeatedly warned against overloading and vowed to penalize those who violate water transport safety measures, but most passengers travel to remote areas where access to roads is limited and many cannot afford to take public transport.