PICS: Ugandan divers pull bodies from Lake Victoria boat accident

PICS: Ugandan divers pull bodies from Lake Victoria boat accident
Uganda cruise boat capsizes, killing at least 29, after carrying more than twice its capacity
The capsizing of a boat cruise on Lake Victoria in Uganda has killed at least 29 people. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni said on Sunday that the boat was carrying more than twice its capacity of 50 people.

Uganda‘s President Yoweri Museveni said on Sunday that a cruise boat which capsized on Lake Victoria a day earlier, killing at least 29 people, was carrying more than twice its capacity of 50.

One reason many people died so close to shore was likely "intoxication," said Asuman Mugenyi, national director of police operations. Citing the accounts of some survivors, he said there was a good number of life jackets aboard the doomed vessel that passengers neglected to wear.

More than 200 people died in September when an overloaded ferry sank on the Tanzanian side of the lake.

The boat overturned and sank at about 7 p.m. Saturday night, said senior police officer Zurah Ganyana. She said that 27 people were rescued overnight, lower than earlier reports. More than 90 passengers were on the boat, leading officials to believe that the death toll will rise.

Ugandan divers recover bodies after accident that killed at least 30

On Sunday, a police helicopter flew over the spot where the boat went down on Saturday evening in the waters off Mukono district near Kampala, as a large crowd of onlookers, some wailing, stood on the shore where bodies were piling up.

“The operators of this boat will be charged with criminal negligence and manslaughter, if they have not already been punished for their mistake by dying in the accident,” Museveni wrote on Twitter.

Early Sunday a police helicopter hovered low over the spot where the boat sank, as a team of divers searched for bodies under calm waters. As the death toll rose, so did the crowd of onlookers at a beach abutting a quiet village outside Kampala.

Video: Families of the missing passengers in the Uganda boat tragedy call for governments help

Obviously, the operators of this boat will be charged with criminal negligence and manslaughter, if they have not already been punished for their mistake by dying in the accident. May the souls of all those departed in this tragedy rest in peace.

Police carried victims in tarpaulins and hauled them into a waiting truck, occasionally drawing loud wails from some of the onlookers. One young woman, seeing a victim she apparently recognized, collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

Video: Fun boat cruise ends in tragedy

There was a party going on aboard the boat, with loud music, at the time of the accident, Museveni said.

The boat is believed to have been on a routine weekend cruise that is popular among some young Ugandans. Victims include the couple who owned the boat, according to police officer Ganyana.

Rescue and recovery missions search for the bodies of dead passengers after a cruise boat capsized in Lake Victoria off Mukono district, Uganda November 25, 2018.

Witnesses who were there on Saturday night said they heard people calling for help as they tried to stay afloat and others tried to swim ashore. Many were women.

Video: Thirty people confirmed dead after boat capsized in Lake Victoria

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

The boat was taking passengers on a pleasure cruise on Lake Victoria, a popular weekend activity for young people in Kampala, when it capsized close to shore.

Patrick Onyango, the deputy spokesman for the police, said the vessel had encountered rough conditions at the time of the accident.

Among those rescued on Saturday was Prince Daudi Kintu Wasajja, a brother of Ronald Mutebi, the king of Buganda¬†kingdom,¬†Uganda‘s largest, police said.

On Sunday, a police helicopter flew over the spot where the boat went down on Saturday evening in the waters off Mukono district near Kampala, as a large crowd of onlookers, some wailing, stood on the shore where bodies were piling up.

Uganda boat which sank was unregistered and unlicensed, says Museveni

The East African nation has several kingdoms, whose kings wield considerable social clout but little political influence.

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Music and booze-filled party cruises around Lake Victoria are a rite of passage of sorts for fun-seeking young Ugandans, but the one that pushed off into the waters Saturday night seemed doomed from the start.

The rickety vessel had been in poor condition and had been docked for some time before people started piling on near Kampala, the Ugandan capital, authorities told The Associated Press. The owners of the boat did not have a license to operate and had overloaded the boat well past the point of being safe.

The East African nation has several kingdoms, whose kings wield considerable social clout but little political influence.

22 dead, more than 60 feared drowned after Uganda boat sinks

The revelers aboard — including a Ugandan recording artist and a prince — were apparently unaware of the danger until it was too late.

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

About 7 p.m., the boat overturned and sank, spilling about 90 people into the lake. Inebriated partygoers suddenly found themselves flailing in the water, facing a life-or-death scenario.

There was a party going on aboard the boat, with loud music, at the time of the accident, Museveni said.

Many were not wearing life jackets, authorities said, and their panic was probably increased by their state of intoxication.

More than 200 people died in September when an overloaded ferry sank on the Tanzanian side of the lake.

“They were shouting ‘Help us! Help us!’ and the boat was sinking very quickly,” Sam Tukei, one of several men who used fishermen’s canoes to try to rescue people, told The Associated Press. “By the time the police came, we had saved many people.”

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Two fishing boats that came to the aid of passengers were overwhelmed with people and capsized, according to the BBC.

It is a sad moment. The Uganda Peoples Defence Force and the Uganda Police Force marine units [are continuing with the] search and rescue mission for survivors and those who perished in the boat cruise from KK beach, army spokesperson, Brigadier Richard Karemire, said in a statement.

As word spread, dozens of family members and friends gathered along the shoreline, peering through a wire fence, emitting occasional screams or cries at the sight of a loved one’s body being pulled from the water, the BBC reported. Others pored over sweaters, wallets, keys and shoes hoping to identify the dead.

Among the rescued was music artist Iryn Namubiru, according to the BBC, and Prince Daudi Kintu Wasajja, brother of the king of Buganda, Uganda’s largest traditional kingdom.

The boat was owned by a man named Templa Bissase or Bissaso and his wife, according to a statement that President Yoweri K. Museveni issued to the Ugandan Daily Monitor. The boat was travelling from a private beach and had a capacity of 50 people — but was unregistered, unlicensed and possibly uninsured. The boat party’s music was turned up so loud, Museveni’s statement said, the people aboard “might not have heard the emergency commands of the captain.”

“Fishermen on two small boats could see that the boat was sinking and went to help. People tried to jump onto the boats but they were too many and those sunk. The rescuers died too,” he said.

Uganda ferry disaster: At least 30 dead; death toll likely to rise

Boat accidents are increasingly common on East Africa’s large lakes, including Lake Victoria, which is surrounded by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, and is larger than Switzerland.

Saturday’s tragedy was the second large-scale sinking on Lake Victoria in two months. In September, nearly 150 people died after a ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized on the Tanzanian side of the lake, the BBC reported. The ferry had a capacity of 100 people, but 400 people climbed aboard, many of them carrying goods to nearby markets.

It is not uncommon for ferries to capsize 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.

Critics directed their rage at the government, which they accused of using an overloaded, undersized ferry on a busy route that crosses Lake Victoria a half-dozen times a day. Compounding problems: It was market day, and the ferry was also loaded with supplies, including heavy bags of cement and corn.

Prince David Wasajja, brother of Buganda King Ronald Mutebi, singer Iryn Namubiru and city businessman John Fredrick Kiyimba, commonly known as Freeman, were among those rescued.

“We are really saddened and urge the government to provide a new ferry because the old one was small and the population is big,” Editha Josephat Magesa, a resident who lost an aunt, father and younger brother in the boat tragedy, told the BBC.

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.

But closer to Uganda, as authorities continued to pull bodies out of the water, it was unclear who, if anyone, would be held responsible for the deaths.

“Obviously, the operators of this boat will be charged with criminal negligence and manslaughter, if they have not already been punished for their mistake by dying in the accident,” Museveni said in a statement.

Music and booze-filled party cruises around Lake Victoria are a rite of passage of sorts for fun-seeking young Ugandans, but the one that pushed off into the waters Saturday night seemed doomed from the start.

The rickety vessel had been in poor condition and had been docked for some time before people started piling on near Kampala, the Ugandan capital, authorities told The Associated Press. The owners of the boat did not have a license to operate and had overloaded the boat well past the point of being safe.

The revelers aboard — including a Ugandan recording artist and a prince — were apparently unaware of the danger until it was too late.

Uganda boat accident death toll rises to 33: police

About 7 p.m., the boat overturned and sank, spilling about 90 people into the lake. Inebriated partygoers suddenly found themselves flailing in the water, facing a life-or-death scenario.

Many were not wearing life jackets, authorities said, and their panic was probably increased by their state of intoxication.

L. Victoria boat tragedy: He gave up his life jacket to save a drowning passenger

“They were shouting ‘Help us! Help us!’ and the boat was sinking very quickly,” Sam Tukei, one of several men who used fishermen’s canoes to try to rescue people, told The Associated Press. “By the time the police came, we had saved many people.”

Two fishing boats that came to the aid of passengers were overwhelmed with people and capsized, according to the BBC.

As word spread, dozens of family members and friends gathered along the shoreline, peering through a wire fence, emitting occasional screams or cries at the sight of a loved one’s body being pulled from the water, the BBC reported. Others pored over sweaters, wallets, keys and shoes hoping to identify the dead.

22 dead, scores feared drowned after Ugandan pleasure boat sinks

Among the rescued was music artist Iryn Namubiru, according to the BBC, and Prince Daudi Kintu Wasajja, brother of the king of Buganda, Uganda’s largest traditional kingdom.

The boat was owned by a man named Templa Bissase or Bissaso and his wife, according to a statement that President Yoweri K. Museveni issued to the Ugandan Daily Monitor. The boat was travelling from a private beach and had a capacity of 50 people — but was unregistered, unlicensed and possibly uninsured. The boat party’s music was turned up so loud, Museveni’s statement said, the people aboard “might not have heard the emergency commands of the captain.”

Boat accidents are increasingly common on East Africa’s large lakes, including Lake Victoria, which is surrounded by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, and is larger than Switzerland.

Saturday’s tragedy was the second large-scale sinking on Lake Victoria in two months. In September, nearly 150 people died after a ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized on the Tanzanian side of the lake, the BBC reported. The ferry had a capacity of 100 people, but 400 people climbed aboard, many of them carrying goods to nearby markets.

At least 31 people dead after overcrowded pleasure boat sinks in Lake Victoria

Critics directed their rage at the government, which they accused of using an overloaded, undersized ferry on a busy route that crosses Lake Victoria a half-dozen times a day. Compounding problems: It was market day, and the ferry was also loaded with supplies, including heavy bags of cement and corn.

“We are really saddened and urge the government to provide a new ferry because the old one was small and the population is big,” Editha Josephat Magesa, a resident who lost an aunt, father and younger brother in the boat tragedy, told the BBC.

RPT-UPDATE 1-Death toll from Uganda boat cruise accident jumps to 29

But closer to Uganda, as authorities continued to pull bodies out of the water, it was unclear who, if anyone, would be held responsible for the deaths.

Dangerously overcrowded party boat sinks in Lake Victoria, killing 29 passengers

“Obviously, the operators of this boat will be charged with criminal negligence and manslaughter, if they have not already been punished for their mistake by dying in the accident,” Museveni said in a statement.