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Congolese footballers drown in Zambia

28 March 2012 23:59

Twenty players from Congo DR club Virgin KA drowned in a Zambian river on Sunday on their way home from a football game.

The players and their fans were travelling back from Zambia in three boats when rounds of high and violent waves produced by a passing motorboat tossed them into the Luapula River, according to Aaron Mushanga, vice commissioner of the Luapula District.

"Their boats capsized in the middle of Luapula River after being hit by a strong wave generated by a passing boat," Mushanga said.

"The boat carried over 100 people, but 80 of them were rescued by the crew while 20 died."

A spokesperson for the Luapula Red Cross said many bodies were yet to be recovered and that it would take more days to fish out the remaining bodies and give the exact figure of casualties.

More than 100 people have downed since January in the Tanganyika Lake, which stretches across Burundi, DR Congo, Tanzania and Zambia.

Sunday's wreck once again highlights safety concerns about the region's water transport.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Wednesday sent a letter of condolence to the president of Congolese Football Federation, Constant Omari Selemani.

"On behalf of FIFA and in my own name, I am writing to you and the Federation Congolaise de Football-Association to extend my most sincere condolences," he wrote.

"I would be most grateful if you would pass on the deep sympathy and support of the entire international football family to the families, loved ones and clubs of the deceased at this very difficult time."

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