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At least 20 killed in Lake Tanganyika boat accident

Written by: Staff
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BUJUMBURA, Apr 19 (Reuters) A ferry carrying up to 160 passengers and their goods capsized on East Africa's Lake Tanganyika at the weekend, killing at least 20 people, a Congolese provincial governor said today.

The passengers were travelling from Fizi in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Uvira, a town about 120 km away when strong winds struck the vessel late on Sunday.

''The accident took place in Fizi territory. The information I have says 20 people died and there are some missing,'' Deogratias Buhambahamba, governor of Congo's south Kivu province, told Reuters.

He said the search for survivors was continuing.

Quoting survivors, national radio station RTNC said 70 people died and 90 survived the boat disaster -- a relatively common occurrence in former Zaire where roads have been destroyed by years of civil war and neglect.

In January, 80 people were feared drowned after a barge tipped over in strong winds on the Congo's Kasai River, and at least 50 people were killed when two motorised canoes capsized on Lake Kivu last October.

Water transport is often the only way to cover the vast distances between villages in Africa's third-biggest country, and rickety vessels are often overloaded with people and goods.

Poor communications in remote areas often delays information about the scale of such accidents.

REUTERS SI BST1700

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