At least 60 people died and hundreds more are missing after an overloaded whaling boat sank in the Congo River at night, said the Democratic Republic of Congo’s humanitarian affairs minister.
Minister Steve Mbikayi said more than 700 people were on board the ship, but only 300 survivors have been found so far at the disaster site in the western province of Mai-Ndombe.
The ship was sailing overnight from Kinshasa to Mbandaka when it had problems near the village of Longola Ekoti, in the province of Mai-Ndombe.
The minister told Al-Jazeera that the main cause of the shipwreck was the excess of passengers and cargo on the ship, adding that “night navigation also played a role”.
Mbikayi offered condolences to the affected families and called for sanctions against those involved in the transport sector.
Deadly boat accidents are common in Congo, which has few paved roads in its vast wooded interior and where ships are often loaded beyond their capacity.
For most people, the Congo River and its tributaries are the only way to travel long distances.