Hundreds die in Congo ferry disaster

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Alicia Windsor


160 dead, 100 missing after Congo ferry disaster

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) – Search teams have recovered the bodies of 160 people killed when two ferries collided in a storm on a Congo River tributary and were searching for more than 100 others still missing, authorities said.

Of the roughly 500 on board the two ferries, 222 are known to have survived the collision, said Catherine Nzuzi, Congo's minister of humanitarian affairs.

The disaster took place Tuesday evening near Inongo, a town on an offshoot of the vast Central African nation's main inland waterway, the Congo River.

News reached the capital, Kinshasa, about 485 kilometres away, only late Wednesday.

Authorities said both ferries were overloaded but said bad weather was the main cause of the accident.

"There was a violent storm that provoked the collision," Nzuzi said.

Residents of Inongo were helping bury the dead in mass graves, authorities said.

Congo's government reopened the river to commercial traffic in April after closing it during the country's nearly five-year war, fearing rebels could use it to move on Kinshasa.

Africa's impoverished residents often use overcrowded, unsafe boats to travel around a continent characterized by poor roads and expensive flights.

Africa's worst ferry accident came on Sept. 26, 2002, when Senegal's state-run ferry – carrying nearly four times its intended capacity – overturned in a gale in the Atlantic Ocean.

Only 60 survived and 1,863 perished when MS Joola capsized – making the accident more deadly than the sinking of the Titanic.

This is me again...

I guess we will know more as the investigations into the incident continue.

As a side note, did anyone else notice that Senegal's state run ferry, which sank in 2002, was carrying four times its capacity? How awful that people had to die because of someone's negligence. I certainly hope someone was held responsible for allowing the ferry to leave port so grossly overloaded. What is the point of laws about this kind of thing if they are not enforced?
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