CAR: 3 drown, 10 missing after boat capsizes

The Oubangui River marks the boundary between the Central African Republic and DR Congo. 

Three people drowned and about 10 others went missing when a vessel carrying about 100 spectators to a boat race sank in a river in Central African Republic, police said Monday.

The accident occurred on Saturday on the Oubangui river near the capital Bangui during the national holiday, said police, who were still searching for survivors.

"Three bodies have been fished out of the water, but this is only a provisional toll because at least 10 people have been reported missing," a police official said. "The search is still continuing by naval forces and some families who have not seen their close ones since Saturday."

The official said the boat had "set sail with more than 100 people on board, including children."

The annual boat race in which dug-out canoes compete, each carrying between 40 and 60 people, draws several thousand spectators to the shores of the Oubangui, which marks the border between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The president of the organising committee, Brice-Rufin Molomadon, confirmed that the sunken vessel was not taking part in the race. "We officially registered 20 boats to start out. But to our great surprise, this vessel appeared on the river loaded beyond its capacity," he said.

"There was a collision with one of the registered boats. It capsized and all the passengers were in the water. Many were able to get out, but there were dead and missing, which we all deplore," Molomadon added.

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