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Unknown number of missing after boat capsizes in Congo

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The passengers were aboard a cargo vessel
  • The boat caught fire and capsized Saturday on the Kasai River
  • 24 people escaped the blaze, a government spokesman says

(CNN) -- A cargo vessel caught fire and capsized in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving an unknown number of people missing, a government spokesman said Sunday.

The incident occurred Saturday night when fuel drums aboard the vessel caught fire.

Mende Omalanga, a government spokesman, told CNN Sunday that 24 people escaped the blaze, but an unknown number of passengers -- traveling aboard the boat without authorization -- were missing.

The boat was carrying goods along the Kasai River from the town of Tshikapa. The boat is intended for carrying only cargo, not passengers, Omalanga said.

It caught fire while passing the village of Mbendayi in the southern part of the country, Omalanga said.

CNN's Andreena Narayan contributed to this report.