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At least 140 killed in DR Congo ferry accident

07-30-2010 16:56 BJT

KINSHASA, July 30 (Xinhua) -- At least 140 passengers died when an overcrowded ferry hit a sandbank and capsized in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), a local official said Thursday.

Previous reports put the death toll at about 130.

The accident happened Wednesday on the Kasai River, a stretch of the Congo River in the DR Congo's western Bandundu province.

The government confirmed the accident, saying it may have been caused by low water levels on the river due to the dry season.

The specific number of passengers is not yet known.

The ferry's passenger list showed that 180 people were on board, but the real figure may outnumber this as many people secretly boarded the boat, DR Congo's Communications Minister Lambert Mende said.

A local official told Xinhua that the ferry carried more than 250 passengers, mostly businessmen, farmers and students.

According to Xavier Nsingi, navy commander of the National Transport Office, there could be more than 200 deaths as a result of the accident.

Neither the UN Mission for the Stabilization of the DR Congo nor the International Red Cross has any details of the shipwreck.

Decades of conflict have left the nation's infrastructure in tatters. Ferry accidents are frequent and often blamed on overloading.

In May, more than 100 people also died in a ferry accident on the Congo River near Kindu in Maniema Province.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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