The boat, which was transporting dozens of passengers as well as goods, caught fire overnight Monday in Tshimbinda, a village near Tshikapa, the capital of the central province of Kasai.
The government of Kiribati was accused on Friday of attempting to bury a damning report into the Pacific island nation’s worst ferry disaster, which claimed 81 lives last year.
Authorities said late Monday that beyond the 18 fatalities, they had rescued 46 survivors and 30 others were still missing — meaning there were far more people on board than initially believed.
According to Thatta Deputy Commissioner Usman Tanveer, the boat on Kneejhar Lake overturned because it was overloaded past the permitted capacity, while strong winds also led to the accident."
Local police official Imranul Islam provided the figure of 21 dead, speaking by phone late Friday. Survivors said about 100 people were aboard. Local news reports, quoting the area’s top government administrator, Hayat-Ud-Dola, said about 50 people were missing.