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DRC Ferry Collision Leaves More Than 160 Dead - 2003-11-27

A collision of two ferries on a lake in the western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo has left at least 163 people dead.

The disaster is reported to have happened on Tuesday, when two ferries carrying a total of about 500 passengers collided after a storm hit Lake Mai Ndombe, some 400 kilometers northeast of Kinshasa.

The ministry of humanitarian affairs confirmed on Thursday morning that 163 bodies had been taken out of the lake, but that 222 people had survived. Roughly 120 people were still unaccounted for. A government delegation was expected to arrive at the scene of the accident Thursday to investigate how the crash happened.

Lake Mai Ndombe, which is a main reservoir for the Congo River, is estimated at 2300 square kilometers but doubles or triples in size during the rainy season, which falls between September and March.

Congo has just emerged from a five year war that has left much of the country's infrastructure destroyed, an issue that the government is trying to address in its new budget for 2004.