129 dead after boat capsizes on Lake Tanganyika

At least 129 people drowned when a passenger ship capsized on Lake Tanganyika in the southeast of Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a new official death toll Sunday. “Rescue workers recovered a total of 129 bodies,” an official told AFP, adding there were a number of women and children among the victims in Thursday’s disaster.

The new toll represented a dramatic increase on the provisional figure given Saturday by the government of DRC’s Katanga province, which had spoken of at least 26 dead.

So far, the number of survivors stood at 232, mostly men, the Provincial Minister for transport said, adding that rescue workers had found more people in the water Sunday, who had been clinging onto petrol cans and other objects for over 48 hours and were in a very weakened condition.

“The search for other survivors and bodies is continuing,” the Provincial Minister said.

The accident took place Thursday night in the north of Katanga province, between the towns of Moba and Kalemie.

Officials said strong winds and overloading caused the M/V Mutambala, which was bound for Uvira further north in South Kivu province, to capsize. The boat was carrying cargo as well as passengers.

Disasters with high numbers of fatalities are frequent on the lakes and rivers of DRC, where vessels are often overloaded, life jackets frequently missing and many people cannot swim. Lake Tanganyika is the longest freshwater lake in the world and also borders Tanzania, as well as Burundi and Zambia.

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