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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Death toll in Uganda boat accident rises
to 35, little hope for survivors: military

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- The death toll from a weekend boat accident that capsized on Lake Victoria in central Uganda rose to 35, a military spokesperson said here on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki, deputy military spokesperson, told Xinhua by telephone that search and rescue operation will continue but there are little hopes of finding survivors since the boat capsized on Saturday night.

“We don’t believe any person is still alive. The last person were rescued alive was on Saturday night,” said Akiiki.

“We shall continue with the recovery of the bodies until we are told to stop. We believe it will take us a week or so,” he added.

Two boats capsized and completely submerged in deep waters at Mutima Island on Saturday evening, which police has blamed on overloading and bad weather.

The second boat that was on rescue mission for the partygoers submerged due to overloading.

According to police, so far 27 people have been rescued. Local media reports indicated that there were over 120 partygoers on the boat.

The government on Sunday formed a team headed by Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, to investigate the fatal incident.

The government also began handing the bodies of the deceased to their relatives for burial.

Boat accidents on Ugandan lakes are common due to overloading and strong winds. 

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Uganda government opens investigation into fatal boat accident

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- The Ugandan government has launched investigation into the cause of the Saturday night boat accident on Lake Victoria.

Moses Ali, first deputy Prime Minister, said in a statement issued on Sunday the aim of the investigation is to ensure that such an incident does not occur again.

He said the country would be briefed as soon as the investigation report is out.

He said government has also formed an inter-ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to handle the tragedy.

“Government has decided to release the bodies that have been cleared by police and identified by families and relatives,” he said.

President Yoweri Museveni in a condolence message on Sunday said preliminary information shows that the boat was unregistered and unlicensed.

Museveni said the boat had a capacity for 50 people only but there were about 120 passengers on board, who also seemed to be partying with a lot of music.

“They might not have heard the emergency commands of the captain, who is still unaccounted for,” the president said.

He said the tragedy should be a warning to everybody not to board boats that are overloaded, no life jackets and have no reliable navigation.

Museveni said the government has ordered the electronic registration and monitoring of all the boats so that authorities know who is where on the lake and why

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Uganda military joins search and rescue operation in Lake Victoria boat accident

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- The Ugandan military has joined the search and rescue operation in the disastrous Saturday boat accident on Lake Victoria in the central district of Mukono, a spokesperson said here on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki, Uganda’s deputy military spokesperson said in a statement that Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) marines are entering deep waters on Sunday morning to join the search for survivors and retrieving the dead bodies.

“UPDF marine divers are entering the deep waters in the next few minutes to reach the lake bed where the boat is. Sad for our country and the bereaved families,” said Akiiki.

Emilian Kayima, police spokesperson said the death toll had risen to 13, dozens are still missing and 26 had been rescued by Saturday night when the search and rescue operation was postponed. The police had earlier said that 40 people had been rescued.

“The team of experts will resume this rescue mission this morning where many people are feared dead, deep in the waters where the boat in which they were traveling capsized and completely submerged,” said Kayima.

The boat reportedly carried over 120 passengers, beyond its capacity of 100, who traveled from KK beach in capital city Kampala to Mukono, according to local media.

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Uganda police rescue 16 people trapped on three islands following heavy rains

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda police marines and air force have rescued 16 people trapped on three submerging islands on Lake Kyoga in the central part of the country following heavy rains, a spokesperson said here on Thursday.

Emilian Kayima, Uganda’s police spokesperson, said in a statement the police air force rescued families who were trapped on submerging islands on the lake in Nakasongola and Kayunga districts.

“Our helicopter was flown to these three islands rescuing all the 16 people trapped on these islands with a possibility of sinking as the water levels kept rising and the winds blowing severely,” said Kayima.

He urged people residing in water logged areas to take extra care and report to police any incidents of drowning.

In another incident caused by heavy rains, Kayima said the police on Thursday morning rescued three people whose boat was swept off at River Ssezibwa in the central district of Buikwe on Wednesday. He said two of the occupants of the boat were rescued on Wednesday before nightfall interrupted the rescue mission.

Uganda is experiencing a heavy rain season causing floods and landslides in some areas.

Last weekend at least five people were killed in parts of central Uganda following a heavy downpour that triggered flooding.

Last month at least 46 people were killed by landslides in the mountainous eastern district of Bududa following torrential rains.

             

 

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