At least sixty people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the crash of a passenger barge on the River Congo.
Eyewitnesses said the barge, which was carrying more than 700 passengers, became shipwrecked at night.
Confirming the incident in a twitter post on Monday, DRC’s Humanitarian Affairs Minister Steve Mbikayi said some 300 survivors had been found near the scene of the accident in Mai-Ndombe province in the west of the country, but another 240 remained unaccounted for.
“We sympathize with the families of the victims and we demand sanctions against all those responsible for the transport sector,” Mr. Mbikayi said, without providing further details.
Deadly boat accidents are commonplace in the DRC, which has few tarred roads across its vast, forested interior and where vessels are frequently loaded well beyond their capacity.
For most people in the Great Lakes country’s estimated 60-million-strong population, the Congo river and its tributaries are said to offer the only means of travelling long distances.