At least thirty people have died, and more than a hundred others are missing following the sinking of a vessel on the Congo River on October 13, 2023. The final toll is uncertain, and the circumstances of the tragedy remain to be clarified.
The toll is heavy and uncertain after the sinking of a vessel on the evening of October 13, 2023, on the Congo River near Mbandaka, in the Equateur province, with at least thirty confirmed deaths and around a hundred people missing.
According to authorities, there were over 400 people on board the boat when it sank on the evening of Friday, October 13, just before 10 p.m. local time, as it departed from the Bankita port in Mbandaka. The vessel had just begun its journey when it capsized.
Investigations are ongoing to understand the circumstances of the accident. According to initial statements from officials, overloading of the boat is a likely cause, as well as nighttime navigation outside of conventional hours.
Search and rescue efforts continue to find survivors and recover the victims’ bodies. The final toll is still provisional as between 100 and 200 people are currently reported as missing.
At present, the boat’s owner is reportedly on the run, and authorities have not yet located the vessel’s manifest. The Congolese Minister of Transport, Marc Ekila, has called for a multiparty investigation involving members from the security services, immigration department, and intelligence.
This accident occurred just hours after the weekly Cabinet meeting, during which the issue of river navigation had been discussed. President Félix Tshisekedi emphasized the importance of using the Congo River and its tributaries as extensions of the road network to cover the national territory. Hence, he called for all necessary measures to be taken to prevent these frequent and often similarly caused deadly shipwrecks: overloading, poor marking of waterways, nighttime navigation, or vessel non-compliance. An action plan will be developed shortly.