Lake Albert Boat Accident: Death Toll Rises To 107

Members of the Uganda Police Marine Unit participate in a rescue operation after a boat carrying mostly Congolese refugees capsized in Lake Albert near Ntoroko, southwest of Uganda's capital Kampala. Reuters
Members of the Uganda Police Marine Unit participate in a rescue operation after a boat carrying mostly Congolese refugees capsized in Lake Albert near Ntoroko, southwest of Uganda’s capital Kampala. Reuters

At least 107 people have died as a result of a boat accident on the lake that lies along the Uganda-Congo border, Ugandan police said Monday, as rescue efforts entered a third day.

The accident occurred on Saturday, after a boat carrying mainly Congolese refugees capsized on Lake Albert, where several international companies are exploring for oil and gas.

Charles Sebambulidde, the police commander in western Uganda, told international media that at least 82 bodies were pulled out of the lake between Sunday and Monday, making the boat accident one of the country’s worst in more than a decade.

“The rescue mission in still ongoing; we don’t know exactly how many people were on board,” Mr. Sebambulidde said.

The police’s marine unit rescued at least 45 survivors on Saturday, assisted by local fishermen, Mr. Sebambulidde said, adding that hopes of finding more had “virtually” vanished.

Most of the victims were women and children, escaping violence on the Congolese side of the lake, where government troops are battling multiple armed groups. Mineral-rich but restive eastern Congo has been plagued by back-to-back wars since the late 1990s, resulting into the death of more than five million people, according to aid agencies.

Boat accidents are common on Uganda’s lakes, which include Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake. The accidents are typically caused by poor boat maintenance and lax enforcement of safety measures.

Mr. Sebambulidde said that preliminary investigations indicate that the boat was overloaded.

Adapted From The Wall Street Journal

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