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Boat capsizes, killing 16

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KINSHASA, 21 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - Sixteen people died on Saturday in the western province of Equateur, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after a boat capsized on the River Congo in Lukolela Territory, about 200 km from the provincial capital of Mbandaka, a local official told IRIN.

The governor of the province, Yves Mobando Yogo, said 164 people survived the accident.

"An inquiry team has gone to the scene with MONUC [the UN Mission in the DRC], to determine the exact circumstances of the accident, which took place at two in the morning," Mobando said.

He added that the local territory administrator had reported that the boat, named HB Lengi, had capsized after a hitting an object. "It may have hit a rock," Mobando added.

Those onboard HB Lengi were mostly business people, headed for a market in Makutupoko, about 100 km southwest of Lukolela, where goods are bought and sold to their counterparts from the Republic of Congo.

Mobando said overloading was a possible cause of the accident - the boat had 180 people on board, but only capacity for 100. Overloading has caused many similar accidents on the river.

Local authorities organised the rescue, and MONUC sent two boats to ferry the survivors to shore.

In January 19 people died after a similar accident on the River Kasai.


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