Central African Republic: Over 50 Drown After Boat Capsizes in Mpoko River

Map of Central African Republic

The boat passengers were reportedly on their way to a funeral when the boat sank. Authorities said they were still looking for other people, with the total number of passengers still unknown.

A river boat capsized in the Mpoko river in the Central African Republic's capital Bangui, killing at least 50 people en route to a funeral, civil protection said on Saturday.

Authorities said they were still searching for people in the water, as the incident is believed to have occurred on Friday.

What do we know about the accident?

Eyewitnesses and videos on social media suggest the boat was carrying over 300 people, en route to a funeral of a village chief some 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Bangui. Some passengers were standing, while others were perched on wooden structures.

The boat ran into difficulty shortly after setting off. Rescue services arrived 40 minutes after the sinking. Some of those injured were evacuated by motorbike taxis.

"We were able to extract 58 lifeless bodies," civil protection department head Thomas Djimasse told Radio Guira. "We don't know the total number of people who are underwater."

Government spokesperson Maxime Balalou called for better compliance with river transport safety regulations. He announced launching an investigation into the incident and setting up a fund to support the families of the victims.

rmt/wd (AFP, Reuters)

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