Six bodies recovered, 19 missing and 237 rescued after a barge, heading to Basoko, sank.

Up to 25 people are feared to have died after a barge sank on the Congo River, authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) northeastern province of Tshopo said.

“A barge, which was leaving Kisangani for Basoko, sank on Friday evening. The toll today is six bodies which have been recovered, 237 survivors and 19 missing,” Tshopo’s vice governor, Maurice Abibu Sakapela, told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.

“The public prosecutor has opened an inquiry. Some people have already been arrested,” he said before adding that “overloading and the poor state of the vessel” were to be blamed for the accident.

Rivers and waterways are widely used for travel in the DRC in the absence of paved roads and railways.

But many vessels are old or poorly maintained and skippers may turn a blind eye to rules on lading and safety despite requirements passed in April 2019 for all passengers to wear life jackets.