More than 100 people are believed to have died or disappeared in the sinking of a makeshift boat in the Congo River, provincial authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo said on Saturday.
Fifty-one bodies had been recovered Friday night from the sinking overnight Monday through Tuesday, and another 69 are believed to be missing, Néstor Magbado, a spokesman for the governor of the northwestern province of Mongala, told AFP.
He said there were 39 survivors.
Without a manifest from the passengers on board, the missing number is an estimate based on the ship’s capacity, he said.
The boat 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 unclear until it was reported by the media late Friday and confirmed by provincial authorities on Saturday.
Magbado said authorities in Mongala had informed Kinshasa of the sinking right after it occurred, but had waited for more information on the number of victims.
Search and rescue operations continue, but hopes of finding more survivors are fading, he said.
Provincial authorities have declared three days of mourning starting Monday.