At least two people drowned and dozens could be missing after a passenger boat sank on Lake Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the transport minister and a local civil society representative said.

The motor boat hit a rock and capsized at 9 a.m. and the authorities have sent a team to the site to find out how many people were on board, said the minister, Alimasi Malumbi Mathieu.

Deadly boat accidents are common in Congo, which has few tarred roads across its vast, forested territory and where vessels are frequently loaded well beyond their capacity.

The minister said two bodies had been retrieved so far from the water, but did not give a figure for the number the authorities think are still missing.

The head of the civil society group in the lakeside community of Kalehe, Delphin Birimbi, said volunteers had counted 15 bodies by the time the search was called off in the evening due to heavy rain.

Sixty people had been rescued and around 40 were missing, Birimbi said by phone.

Dozens are feared to have drowned in similar accidents on Lake Kivu in January and last June.

 

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