70 Dead, 200 Missing, 2 Boats Capsized In Congo
Local spokeswoman Ebale Engumba said Sunday that Saturday morning, a vessel on a river in northwest Equator Province smashed against a rock and capsized. It seems that 70 people were killed among the about 100 passengers. She added that investigations are being made to find out why the vessel was traveling without light, during the night.
In an unconnected happening in Kasai Occidental Province, 200 people were in danger to lose their lives, after a boat crowded with passengers and fuel containers burst into flames and capsized in southern Congo, a survivor related Sunday. Another survivor, who said that provincial fishermen denied lending a hand to drowning travelers who jumped off the packed boat, confirmed the story.
The incident in southern Congo would be the deadliest vessel accident in the Central African state this year, and amongst the most awful in Africa this year.
The ships that cross Congo’s rivers are often in deficient fix and packed past capacity. The industry is not keeping up well and vessel operators are notorious for loading boats to hazardous levels.
Engumba said that in the 1st incident in northwest Congo, authorities believe the ship’s lack of illumination was to blame. She said they intend to detain people implicated who are responsible for adjusting the ship’s movement who did not succeed to stop the vessel from traveling through the darkness.
According to survivors, in the 2nd incident, the ship was overfilled with people and merchandise. A local representative said two of the vessel’s team was detained but both denied saying how many people were on the ship. He added that the traveler record seemingly disappeared in the fire.
Fabrice Muamba, who declared he was aboard when the ship burst into flames Saturday night on the Kasai River, related he believed only 15 of the more than 200 people he assumed were on the ship were capable to swim to shelter. He added that travelers began to jump overboard when the engine burst into flames as it passed the isolated village of Mbendayi, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) from the settlement of Tshikapa, which is north of Congo’s frontier with Angola.
A woman called Romaine Mishondo, another survivor, said the ship was already filled with “hundreds” of people when it stopped some 10 minutes before the blaze to collect more passengers.
She mentioned she was not familiar with the exact number of passengers on the ship, but that the vessel was so crammed it looked like the complete market in the town full of people.
She also related how the fishermen ignored the prays for help of drowning travelers, who had jumped off the board when the fire started.
She said fishermen tried to attack the ship and began hitting passengers with paddles as they were attempting to plunder goods, and they rejected to rescue passengers, instead taking merchandise into their possession. She survived because she hung onto a jerry can until another boat passed by the setting and saved them.
Ship owner Mwamba Mwati Nguma Leonard declared a survivor and a worker called to tell him the ship was on fire when employees discharged fuel and set fire to the engine.
Leonard said he is now crying after he has known his vessel catch fire, and he was just informed by phone that it was while seamen put fuel into the reservoir that a blast took place after the oil had reached at the boat’s battery.
He declared he has demanded that the ship’s managers were arrested, as he thinks they hired unqualified workers.
He had no more details to add because he was in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the place, and because his staff on the setting did not respond to his calls Sunday.
He said at this time he could not confirm what happened precisely, since he was in Kinshasa.
Leonard also approved Muamba’s story that the ship was transporting many drums filled with fuel on its journey all the way through Kasai Occidental Province. Leonard added the ship also was transporting bags of maize and he did not know the number of people on the ship.
Francois Madila, a spokesperson from the navigation unit in the region, said police detained two crewmembers and is inspecting the incident. Madila said the seamen have not declared how many people were on board and that the passenger list seemed to have vanished in the flames.
No other comments from other authorities and witnesses could be obtained on Sunday.
The incident is the deadliest of more vessel incidents known this year in Congo.
In July, authorities stated at least 80 people lost their lives when a ship carrying roughly 200 passengers to Congo’s capital capsized after colliding with a rock.
In May, tens of people were killed when a jammed canoe capsized on a river in eastern Congo.
In November 2009, at least 90 people died after a sorting ship went under on a lake in Congo. The timber-transporting boat was not ought to be moving passengers.
Congo is an extensive country of jungles and enormous rivers in Central Africa with little more than 300 miles (480 kilometers) of cemented road. Many people rather take ships even if they cannot swim.11