146 Zaireans drown in Congo ferry disaster

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The Independent Online
BRAZZAVILLE (Reuter) - At least 146 Zaireans drowned while being expelled from neighbouring Congo in one of the world's worst river ferry disasters, Congolese police said yesterday.

Witnesses said scores of bodies were strewn across the floor of Brazzaville's main mortuary after Saturday's accident. Police said more bodies might emerge from the deep, still waters of the Congo river by the Brazzaville quayside.

The tragedy occurred as hundreds of Zaireans being expelled from Congo as illegal immigrants were jostling to get on a Zairean ferry carrying them back to Kinshasa. Congo police said the ferry pulled away from the quay too soon and people were pushed into the river by the crowds behind. Realising its mistake, the ferry then returned to the quay but killed many people in the water.

Tuesday's death toll was a huge increase from the 33 reported by mortuary sources on Monday. More bodies were fished out of the river throughout Monday evening.

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