Passenger Boat Sinks in Congo; 35 Dead

A boat overloaded with passengers and freight sank in choppy waters on a lake in Congo, killing at least 35 people, shipping officials said Tuesday.

High winds and rough waves swamped the boat carrying 90 people and their goods on Lake Kivu on Monday, sinking the boat, said Edouard Tamba Kakozi, president the shipping association in Goma, in eastern Congo. He said 35 people were killed.

"The boat was also overloaded. Now it is at the bottom of the lake," Kakozi told The Associated Press. U.N. officials confirmed the accident, saying at least two bodies had been recovered from the waters.

Accidents are common on Congo's poorly maintained boats — many dating back to before independence in 1960 — that are often overloaded with people and merchandise.

Decades of war, corruption and neglect have left Congo with only a few miles of paved roads, making the Congo River, its tributaries and other waterways lifelines for commerce in the country the size of Western Europe.

On March 19, 2005, at least 16 people drowned when an overloaded ferry sank in the Congo River near Lukolela, 260 miles north of Kinshasa.

CountryWatch: Congo