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Central African Republic: At least 58 dead after a boat carrying over 300 people to funeral sinks in capital Bangui

Witnesses and videos of the incident, which have surfaced on social media, indicate that a wooden boat carrying more than 300 people overturned and sank on the Mpoko River on Friday.

At least 58 people going to a funeral died after their overloaded boat capsized in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, the head of civil protection said on Saturday (20th April). It is feared that the death toll could rise as dozens of people are still missing. 

Speaking with Radio Guira, Thomas Djimasse said, “We were able to extract 58 lifeless bodies. We don’t know the total number of people who are underwater.” 

Witnesses and videos of the incident, which have surfaced on social media, indicate that a wooden boat carrying more than 300 people overturned and sank on the Mpoko River on Friday.

As per reports, the overcrowded boat was on its way to the funeral of a village chief. Shortly after departure, it capsized, forcing passengers to jump into the water to survive. Fishermen and local residents rushed to the scene to attempt a rescue operation, while official rescuers arrived 40 minutes after the incident.

Maurice Kapenya followed the boat in a canoe as there was not enough space for him on the board. He said that he collected the bodies of some of the victims, including his own sister, with the help of fishermen and residents. 

On Saturday, families were observed searching near the river for their missing loved ones.

Footage shared on social media vividly captures people either falling or leaping into the water, desperately trying to reach the safety of the riverbanks. Strikingly, boat disasters are sadly common in the Central African Republic.

Speaking with French-language broadcaster RFI, a witness said, “What just happened was terrifying. I know a family who’ve lost seven relatives in this tragedy.”

In a flurry of social media posts, civil society groups and local political parties expressed their condolences and demanded an inquiry in the boat sinking incident. 

Since 2013, the former French colony has been embroiled in a civil war following the ousting of former president Francois Bozize by a Muslim-dominated armed coalition known as the Seleka.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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