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Cen. Africa Boat Accident Kills 58

November 23, 2002

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BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) _ The baggage-laden roof of an overloaded river taxi collapsed on passengers, crushing 58 people in this central African nation, an official said.

The dugout canoe _ with a 50-passenger capacity _ was carrying 76 when the accident occurred, said Abel Goumba, a parliamentarian representing Kouango, a town near the scene of the Nov. 11 accident on the Oubangui River.

The 18 survivors struggled out from under the fallen roof and swam to shore, he said Friday.

Word was slow to reach the capital, Bangui, about 90 miles to the west.

The accident prompted the government on Nov. 16 to ban the unstable taxis from traveling on the river. Accidents are common on African rivers, where boats frequently are overloaded.

On Nov. 16, the government _ which recently beat off a power grab by rebels _ banned all travel in the unstable taxis on the river.

Accidents are common on many African rivers, where boats are frequently overloaded.

The Sept. 26 capsize of an overloaded Senegalese ferry off the coast of West Africa killed 1,153 people, making it the continent’s deadliest-ever ferry accident. Only 64 people survived the wreck of the ferry, which was built for 600 people.

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