26 November 2018

Uganda: Police, UPDF On Mission to Pull Out Boat Wreckage

Police and Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) marine units on Monday started the operation of pulling the boat wreckage out of Lake Victoria to establish if there are more bodies still trapped under following Saturday's boat wreck.

The official number of bodies recovered so far is 31. Early responders rescued 26 others while several are still unaccountable for.

Authorities say the ill-fated boat was transporting more than 100 revellers from KK Beach at Ggaba Landing Site in Kampala to Mpatta Island in Mukono District before it capsized in Lake Victoria near Mutima Country Haven Beach killing dozens.

Details emerged indicating that police marine officers attempted to block the ill-fated boat operators and revellers from leaving KK Beach in vain after being notified about fabrication of the vessel minutes before they set off.

The police spokesperson for the Mutima rescue and recovery operation, Ms Zurah Ganyana, said their officers engaged the group telling them the boat had been grounded for three months and refurbishments had been hurriedly done, but they attempted to turn rowdy.

"They did not listen to our officers and continued with their journey," Ms Ganyana said yesterday.

Ferry accidents are not uncommon on the lake and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many local people cannot swim.

In 1966, more than 800 people lost their lives on Lake Victoria when the MV Bukoba sank off the mainland town of Mwanza, according to the Red Cross.

Other boat tragedies

September 2000: Forty-one died as boat headed to Panyimur sank near Kayonga on Lake Albert.

July 2003: Twenty drowned near Runga Landing Site while travelling from Panyimur to Bugoma in Hoima on Lake Albert.

February 2004: Forty-five people perished in a boat accident while returning to Panyimur in Nebbi District on Lake Albert.

December 2004: Twenty-two died when a boat capsizes between Mahagi and Panyimur on Lake Albert.

August 2010: About 70 drowned in Lake Albert.

March 2012: Only two survivors are found after a boat believed to be carrying about 60 people capsizes on Lake Victoria.

December 2012: Twenty-three died when storm hits their boat on Lake Albert.

March 2014: Two hundred fifty one Congolese refugees who had escaped from Kyangwali refugee camp drowned on Lake Albert.

Mid-November 2016: Boat from Kabolwa Landing Site in Buliisa District capsizes, killing eight on Lake Albert.

December 2016: Twenty people died when their boat overturns in Lake Victoria while carrying passengers to Uganda's mainland for Christmas holidays.


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