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Up to 140 Feared Drowned in Congo Boat Accident

Up to 140 people are feared dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after a crowded river boat overturned.

Officials said Thursday that the accident occurred on the Congo River in the western province of Bandundu. Information Minister Lambert Mende said at least 80 people are confirmed dead, while local officials put the death toll higher.

About 200 people were believed to be on the boat, which was also carrying merchandise from Bandundu to the capital, Kinshasa. Officials say the boat was overloaded and unable to navigate through rough waters.

Mende said rescuers are looking for more survivors.

Fatal boat accidents are common in the DRC, where a lack of paved roads and the high cost of air travel forces many people to travel by boat, even if they do not know how to swim.

The river vessels are often overcrowded and poorly maintained.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.