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5 missing after bridge collapses in DR Congo

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Five people have been confirmed missing in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after a bridge collapsed under the weight of a heavy truck, authorities said on Thursday.

According to eyewitnesses, the Lovua Bridge over the river of the same name, gave way when the truck which was heavily laden with construction materials, crossed it on its way to Tshikapa, the capital of Kasai province.

“The truck had 10 people on board but one of them refused to cross on board this machine but the others were stubborn,” the head of the sector where the accident occurred, Hubert Mbombo, told journalists.

According to Mbombo, the truck, as well as the bridge, which had been badly damaged for several years, fell into the river after the bridge collapsed and efforts to retrieve the bodies of the victims by local divers and rescue workers were not successful.

Guy Mafuta, the MP for Kasai where the incident happened, however, put the number of missing persons at seven while the deputy governor, Gaston Nkole, said five people, two men, a woman and two children, are missing.

Nkole in an interview with journalists, said the vehicle was carrying some 30 tons of cement and stones, while the bridge was designed to support 10 to 15 tons.

Metro

M23 rebels take control of Kitshanga in eastern DR Congo

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The M23 rebels have announced that its fighters have seized control of the strategic town of Kitshanga, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after days of intense fighting.

The DRC military authorities also confirmed in a statement late on Friday that its forces have withdrawn from the town in a tactical move to protect civilians in the face of a renewed offensive by the rebel militia.

“We have tactically withdrawn from the city in order to attract these genocidal forces deep into the city and avoid the worst for our people in Kitshanga,” spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, said in the statement.

“We are making every effort to dislodge this enemy,” he added.

Videos then emerged on social media showing the M23 fighters celebrating and claiming they had captured the town.

The M23 rebels said it took control of Kitshanga town on Thursday night after capturing several villages on the road linking the town of about 60,000 people to the provincial capital, Goma.

In an earlier statement, M23′s spokesman, Lawrence Kanyuka, has accused government troops of attacking civilians in Kitchanga and elsewhere, and said the rebel group was “obliged to intervene and stop another genocide”.

While condemning the recent development, the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), said more than 500 people, including women and children, are seeking refuge at its base in the town of Kitshanga.

MONUSCO spokesperson, Ndeye Khady Lo, said civilians fleeing from Kitchanga have been given tents, food, water and first aid.

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Metro

237 African migrants rescued off Libyan coast

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Not less than 237 African migrants were on Friday, rescued after their makeshift boat capsized off the Libyan coast while navigating the dangerous Mediterranean Sea, on their way to Europe.

French medical charity, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which carried out the rescue mission, said the migrants were rescued by its chartered rescue vessel, Geo Barents, which was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, north of the country’s capital Tripoli, when it received a distress call.

“The Geo Barents ship encountered other overcrowded rubber dinghies with migrants attempting to reach Europe and took them on board,” the NGO said.

“Following instructions by the maritime rescue coordination centre, the ship then sailed towards the northern Italian port of La Spezia.l,” it added.

The MSF and other NGOs operating rescue vessels off Africa’s northern coast have accused the Italian government of deliberately assigning far away ports to discourage their operations, an accusation the Italian Interior Ministry had denied.

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