32 missing after boat sinks in DR Congo

Many Congolese people use lakes and rivers to travel to parts of the country that are not connected by roads. (Getty Images )
Updated 16 August 2019

32 missing after boat sinks in DR Congo

  • 46 people were rescued and 32 are missing, said local authorities in the province of South Kivu
  • Such incidents occur regularly in DR Congo, with poorly built and maintained boats often overloaded with people and cargo while safety equipment is minimal

BUKAVU, DR Congo: Thirty-two people are missing, feared dead, after a boat carrying more than 70 passengers capsized on Lake Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Friday.
Initial reports after the motorized piroque — a large canoe — sank Thursday evening “indicate that 46 people were rescued and 32 are missing,” local authorities in the province of South Kivu said in a statement.
It did not give a death toll but said each affected family had been given money to organize “funeral arrangements worthy of our drowned countrymen.”
“Overloading was the main cause of the capsize,” local head Christian Chiringwi in Luhihi told AFP.
In the neighboring province of Tanganyika meanwhile a similar accident late Thursday left two people dead, local officials said.
Such incidents occur regularly in DR Congo, with poorly built and maintained boats often overloaded with people and cargo while safety equipment is minimal.
In the worst recent accident, 142 people drowned when their boat sank on Lake Kivu in April.


White House official went to Syria seeking Americans’ release

A deputy assistant to President Donald Trump and the top White House counterterrorism official flew to Damascus to negotiate the hostages' release. (File/Reuters)
Updated 5 min 52 sec ago

White House official went to Syria seeking Americans’ release

  • It has been more than a decade since a high-level White House official had met with Assad's government
  • Syria erupted into civil war nearly a decade ago after Assad in 2011 began a brutal crackdown on protesters calling for an end to his family’s rule

WASHINGTON, DC: A White House official traveled to Damascus earlier this year for secret meetings with the Syrian government seeking the release of at least two US citizens thought to be held there, a Trump administration official said on Sunday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, named the official as Kash Patel, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump and the top White House counterterrorism official, saying he had flown to Damascus.
“It is emblematic of how President Trump has made it a major priority to bring Americans home who have been detained overseas,” said the official, who was confirming a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The newspaper, citing Trump administration officials and others familiar with the negotiations, described Patel’s trip as the first time such a high-level US official had met in Syria with the isolated government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in more than a decade.
Syria erupted into civil war nearly a decade ago after Assad in 2011 began a brutal crackdown on protesters calling for an end to his family’s rule.
The newspaper said US officials hoped a deal with Assad could free Austin Tice, a freelance journalist and former Marine officer who disappeared while reporting in Syria in 2012, and Majd Kamalmaz, a Syrian-American therapist who disappeared after being stopped at a Syrian government checkpoint in 2017.
At least four other Americans are believed to be held by the Syrian government, the newspaper reported, but little is known about those cases.
The Journal reported that Trump wrote Assad a private letter in March, proposing a “direct dialogue” about Tice.
It said that Lebanon’s top security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, met last week at the White House with national security adviser Robert O’Brien to discuss the Americans held in Syria, according to people involved in the talks.
Talks with Syria have not gotten very far, according to people briefed on them, the newspaper reported, saying Damascus has repeatedly demanded Washington withdraw all its forces from the country.