Fifty missing in boat wreck

At least 50 people have been reported missing in a boat wreck on the River Lualaba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) southeastern province of Katanga.

The spokesman for the UN Mission in DRC, Hamadoun Toure, said on Wednesday that UN observers had reported the boat having been wrecked between the villages of Kipamba and Mangi along the stretch of river linking lakes Kisale and Lukanga, some 400 km northwest of Lubumbashi. A great deal of fishing activity takes place along this stretch of the river. Toure did not say when the incident had taken place, pointing out that the UN had only just released the information, because it had not had observers at the site to confirm the report earlier.

Provincial authorities have confirmed the accident, but said no one had been killed. Katanga Governor Ngoyi Mukena said there had been two other recent shipwrecks, in which six people were killed. He said overloading was often the cause of such accidents.

"These are boats that should take a maximum of 30 people and goods, but which [often] surpass their tonnage [limits] despite administrative controls," he said.

A local resident, Corneille Longwa, said these riverboats could carry cargoes of between 10 and 15 mt, but were sometimes boarded by smugglers with their contraband goods.