Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi declared mourning as 13 people are dead and 142 still missing from a passenger boat that sank on Lake Kivu.

Felix Tshisekedi swears into office during an inauguration ceremony as the new president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the Palais de la Nation in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. January 24, 2019.
Felix Tshisekedi swears into office during an inauguration ceremony as the new president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the Palais de la Nation in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. January 24, 2019. (Reuters Archive)

Thirteen people are dead and 142 still missing from a passenger boat that sank this week on Lake Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the president said on Thursday.

Deadly boat accidents are common in Congo, which has few tarred roads across its vast, forested interior and where vessels are frequently loaded well beyond their capacity.

"We are going to do everything to make sure that this type of tragedy doesn't happen again," President Felix Tshisekedi said.

"It's because of certain economic operators who use rundown boats because of their greed."

On his first tour of eastern Congo since taking office in January, Tshisekedi told reporters near the site of the accident in South Kivu province that 37 passengers had been rescued.

Local fishermen were searching for the missing.

The boat, a smaller type known as a pirogue, had set out from neighbouring North Kivu province on Monday and foundered on the lake near South Kivu's Kalehe territory.

It was unclear who operated the boat and exactly how it sank, though overcrowding is often a cause.

"We understand the boat was in a deplorable state," said local transport official Jacqueline Ngengele.

In one of the worst boat disasters, an overloaded vessel capsized in the Congo River in 2010, killing 138 people. 

Source: Reuters