Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo fear over 100 people are believed dead or missing after a makeshift vessel on the Congo river, provincial capsized during the night of Monday to Tuesday.
Fifty-one bodies had been recovered by late Friday and another estimated 69 are believed to be missing, Nestor Magbado, a spokesman for the governor of the northwestern province of Mongala said.
There were 39 survivors, he said, adding that search and rescue operations are continuing, but hopes are fading of finding more survivors.
The vessel was actually nine traditional wooden canoes, known as pirogues, all tied together, Magbado said.
He added that the accident may have been caused by “overcrowding aggravated by bad weather” during the night.
The scale of the accident was not clear until it was reported by media late on Friday, and confirmed on Saturday by provincial authorities.
Magbado said the Mongala authorities had informed Kinshasa of the sinking just after it occurred, but had waited for more information about the number of casualties.
Three days of mourning from Monday has been declared by provincial authorities.