16 perish as kids' party boat sinks in Albania lake

A boat carrying 20 people celebrating the birthday of five-year-old twins sank in a lake near the capital Tirana early today, killing 16 people, including the children.

A boat carrying 20 people celebrating the birthday of five-year-old twins sank in a lake near the capital Tirana early today, killing 16 people, including the children.

The boat belongs to a restaurant on the shores of Lake Farka, about three miles east of the capital.

It has a capacity of seven, but had been transporting 20 partygoers from the restaurant when it sank, police spokeswoman Alma Katragjini said.

Authorities believe the tragedy happened because the boat was overloaded.

The sinking happened shortly after midnight, Ms Katragjini said. By 3am, rescuers had pulled 16 bodies from the lake, including those of the twin boys.

Fourteen of the victims were members of two families, while two of the bodies were not immediately identified, but believed to be those of family friends.

Outside Tirana mortuary, men wept and held each other as relatives and friends gathered to claim the bodies and arrange funerals.

Lakeside and seaside restaurants are popular in Albania, but most are within easy reach of roads.

The one on Lake Farka was more remote and a small boat was often used to ferry passengers there. However, such incidents of boats being overloaded and capsizing or sinking are rare in Albania.

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