A boat tipped over in a river in northern Democratic Republic of Congo, drowning 49 people on board while about the same number survived the accident, a local official told a Congolese radio station.
Richard Mboyo Iluka, vice governor of remote Tshuapa province, in northern Congo, told Radio Top Congo that the whaleboat had sunk with all of its passengers late on Wednesday.
Deadly boat accidents are common in Congo, a vast, forested country which has few roads outside of major towns and is carved up by a network of rivers that drain the Congo Basin.
For most people these rivers are the only means of travelling over long distances.
It is worthy of note that 138 people died on July 29, 2010, when an overloaded boat carrying passengers and goods capsised in rough water in the DRCongo.
Congo’s government confirmed the incident, but gave a lower toll and said it may have been caused by low water levels on the Congo river due to the dry season.
The accident took place on a stretch of the river in the western Bandundu province, east of Kinshasa, the country’s capital.
“The boat was badly overloaded and it didn’t make the rough waters,” said Jolly Limengo, the provincial inspector of police. “Our provisional toll is 138 dead.”