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Over 40 killed as riverboat sinks in northwest DR Congo

KINSHASA Democratic Republic of Congo (Xinhua) -- More than 40 people were drowned after a boat sank last Saturday night on the Ubangi River in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), local authorities in the North Ubangi Province said.

Gbodi Kete, the administrator of the territory of Bosobolo told Xinhua late Thursday that among the dead were at least 18 Central African Republic citizens whose bodies have been recovered with the other Congolese passengers who died during the accident.

The boat that was already in a dilapidated state was sailing nightly from the Central African Republic on the River when it capsized, he added.

A source of the cabinet of the governor of North Ubangi Province said that more people could be drowned because so far the exact number of passengers and goods from the country of departure was not known.

Cases of shipwrecks on the lakes and rivers are not uncommon in DR Congo. The poor condition and overloading of the boats are often the root cause for most of these accidents. In addition, authorities say night travel on waters also increases safety risks.

Since the beginning of this year, authorities have even decided to prohibit all night navigation of boats on the river to avoid accidents.

In September, 27 people died in a wreck that occurred on the Mongala River in Mongala province in the northwest of the country.



DR Congo mine collapse kills at least 32

BUKAVU, DR Congo Democratic Republic of Congo (Xinhua) -- At least 32 bodies of illegal miners were found on Thursday after the collapse of an artisanal gold mine on October 4 in South Kivu Province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to local sources.

A statement made late Thursday by Deogratias Musafiri, president of the civil society of Fizi in the province of South Kivu, said that the provisional record shows 32 people were dead and removed from the well on Thursday afternoon.

Musafiri said that the collapse followed heavy rains that hit the territory of Misisi and caused flooding on the night of October 4.

Since the collapse of the mine, the search team has struggled to conduct proper search work due to lack of resources. The recovery of the 32 bodies was said to be due to money support for search operation from a close associate of the nation’s president, Joseph Kabila.

According to sources on site, several bodies are still buried more than 70 meters underground.

Authorities on site blame lack of maintenance of the well as a major cause for the mine’s collapse. Many Congolese artisanal miners work in mines that do not respect the conditions and safety standards.

Authorities in South Kivu Province decommissioned several artisanal mines in some areas of South Kivu province in 2017 after a series of incidents recorded at the mines. The province is also among the provinces that record the most landslides during rainy seasons.


South African president postpones visit to DRC due to illness

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has postponed a scheduled visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to an upper-respiratory-tract infection, the Presidency said on Tuesday.

Ramaphosa was due to travel to Kinshasa on Monday, but was advised by doctors to recover from an upper-respiratory-tract infection before undertaking prolonged travel, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

The president “is receiving medical attention and making a good recovery,” Diko said.

The South African government has been in communication with the DRC government regarding this change in Ramaphosa’s schedule, Diko said.

Ramaphosa and his DRC counterpart, Joseph Kabila, had been expected to ratify the agreements reached between the two countries at the 11th Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) currently underway in Kinshasa.

The two leaders will ratify the agreements at a future stage, according to Diko.

The South African government has expressed its appreciation for the DRC’s hosting of the official and ministerial deliberations that have taken place in Kinshasa in preparation for the participation of the two heads of government in the BNC, Diko said.

The BNC was established in 2004 to promote political, economic, and social cooperation between the two countries.

Since the establishment of the BNC, the two countries have strengthened their bilateral cooperation in various fields, resulting in 33 agreements having been signed.

These legal instruments cover a wide range of areas, including agriculture, defense, trade and investment, health, police, energy, public service and administration, cooperative governance, transport, and immigration, according to the Presidency.


Security challenges increasingly undermine
response to Ebola in DR Congo: WHO

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- Response to the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is becoming increasingly undermined by security challenges, which could lead to the virus continuing to spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday.

The WHO said the conflict between rebel and government forces, as well as pockets of community push-back on the response, have challenged Ebola response teams and led to a recent increase in the incidence of new Ebola cases.

Latest WHO statistics show that as of Thursday, a total of 200 Ebola cases, including 165 confirmed cases and 35 probable cases, had been reported, with a death toll of 125. Some 39 new confirmed cases have been reported this month alone, of which 32 were from Beni, one of the epicenters in North Kivu Province.

As of Thursday, some 15,828 people at risk had been vaccinated, including more than 6,300 health and frontline workers and over 3,400 children. Meanwhile, vaccinations have also been in progress in neighboring Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi.

The WHO maintains that the Ebola risk in the DRC is very high at national and regional levels, but is low globally, thus advises against imposing any travel and trade restrictions to the DRC.

Currently, the WHO, local health authority, and other international partners are monitoring more than 8,000 registered contacts, the vast majority being at Beni Health Zone. The greatest challenges in contact tracing, according the WHO, come from local community reluctance and refusal to carry out contact tracing, contacts lost to follow-up, and a deteriorating security situation.


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