Boat capsizes in Congo, killing hundreds

In a country of dense rain forests with few paved roads, boarding an overcrowded boat on a treacherous river is simply a way of life. This weekend, journeys on the dangerous waterways stole the lives of up to 270 people.

A man paddles a dugout canoe past whaleboats being loaded with cargo and passengers at Baramoto Port in Kinshasa

A man paddles a dugout canoe past whaleboats being loaded with cargo and passengers at Baramoto Port in Kinshasa

KINSHASA, Congo — In a country of dense rain forests with few paved roads, boarding an overcrowded boat on a treacherous river is simply a way of life.

This weekend, journeys on the dangerous waterways stole the lives of up to 270 people.

Survivors of a boat that capsized on the Kasai River in southern Congo on Saturday night after a fire broke out said nearby fishermen refused to help drowning passengers,

Instead, the fishermen lotted goods from the burning vessel and beat survivors with oars in the dark.

Francois Madila, an official from the navigation department in the province, said police arrested two crew members and are investigating the capsizing, which took place near Congo’s border with Angola.

Madila said the sailors have not said how many people were aboard and that the passenger list appeared to have disappeared in the fire.