One dead, 22 missing after boat sinks on Congo’s Lake Kivu

One child dead, 22 people missing after boat sinks on Congo’s Lake Kivu, officials say

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Congolese soldiers use their boat to search for passengers of a boat that capsized in Lake Kivu near Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on May 6, 2014

One child has died and 22 people went missing after a government-operated passenger boat sunk on Lake Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday, the provincial officials said.

"A child about five years old has died, 25 were saved and 22 are missing," the provincial land affairs minister Carly Nzanzu Kasivita told reporters.

The navy commander for North Kivu province Jean-Bosco Bahati came to the scene of the accident and told reporters that fishermen helped rescue 25 passengers after the boat had sunk in the middle of the vast lake.

The captain of the boat Bujiriri Kitambala said that the boat sank after the boat began taking on water around midday.

"I saw huge waves beating against the window. The water came into the boat and we capsized soon after," Kitambala told AFP news agency, still visibly shaken due to the accident.

The passenger boat was commuting between the towns of Bukavu and Goma, the respective capitals of South and North Kivu provinces, which are located at the southern and northern ends of the lake.

The provincial governor Julien Paluku said the boat left from Goma at about 7:30am local time for Bukavu.

Shipping accidents have been frequently occuring in DR Congo as most of its people use various waterways as means of transport. Boats are often overcrowded and there is a lack of safety equipment as there are few signposts on the waterways.

In February, dozens of people went missing after two boats crashed on the Congo River in western Congo, causing an overcrowded passenger vessel to sink.

Eastern Congo has witnessed intense conflict over the course of two decades, causing the death of millions of people due to war, hunger and disease.

TRTWorld and agencies