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Unknown number of missing after boats capsizes in Congo

By Mila Sanina, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • One boat sinks after it hits a rock
  • The missing passengers may have swum to shore, spokeswoman says
  • The second boat catches fire and capsizes

(CNN) -- Two cargo vessels capsized in the course of two days in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving 15 people dead and an unknown number of people missing, a government spokeswoman said Monday.

A motor boat sank early Saturday after hitting a rock. Fifteen passengers died and 60 people remain missing, said Rebecca Ebale of the provincial government of Equateur.

The vessel, carrying 100 people, was traveling without lights on the river Ruki in the northwestern Equateur province, Ebale said.

The missing passengers may have escaped and reached shore safely, Ebale said.

The government has dispatched rescue crews to search the waters.

In a separate incident, a cargo vessel caught fire and capsized in the south of the country, 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.

CNN's Andreena Narayan contributed to this report.