KALANGALA, UGANDA: At least twenty (20) people have been confirmed dead in a marine accident on Lake Victoria after a passenger boat they were travelling in capsized in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
The ill-fated giant boat locally known as Kinaala transporting 34 passengers and cargo from Lwanabatya landing site in Kyamuswa County, Kalangala District was headed to Kasenyi landing site near Entebbe in Wakiso District.
However, at around 5 am during the heavy rains, the boat was reportedly hit by strong winds near Nsazi Island on Lake Victoria in Mukono District, drowning 20 passengers, while 9 survivors have been rescued so far.
“The incident happened at 5 am. So far 20, people have been confirmed dead, and nine (9) rescued,” police said through a statement by Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, SSP Patrick Onyango.
“The boat was carrying charcoal, fresh food and fish. The cause of the accident is attributed to overloading and bad weather,” he added.
According to Onyango, rescue efforts are underway with teams from Police Marines, UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit and the local community on the waters trying to locate the missing people.
“We appeal to members of the public who travel on waters to always wear life jackets and not to overload their vessels. We will keep you updated.”
Lake Victoria, the largest waterbody on the continent has in the past witnessed many boat disasters, with the accidents often blamed on overcrowding and poor weather.
In November 2018, thirty-two people died after a pleasure boat sank on Lake Victoria during bad weather, with Uganda police saying the vessel had more than 90 revellers on board.
In September of the same year, hundreds died when the MV Nyerere passenger ferry sank on the Tanzanian side of Lake Victoria.
With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles), oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.