At least 30 members and fans of a local soccer team have lost their lives when their overloaded boat capsized in Lake Albert, police say.
“There was a party on the boat, the passengers were dancing and others were drunk. The boat was overloaded with 45 people, all members of the football team and local fans,” said police commander John Rutagira on Monday.
The victims were all from the village of Kawaibenda in the Buliisa district in western Uganda, near the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and their doomed voyage to Runga Landing site in Hoima District was meant to be a fun boat ride ahead of a highly anticipated local match to be held as part of the Christmas Day festivities.
Rutagira, citing eyewitnesses, added that the lake was calm in the searing temperatures of the day; however, the tragedy struck them just about 100 meters from the shoreline “when the merrymaking team and fans tilted on one side of the boat… It capsized killing about 30 people.”
He went on to say that by Monday morning rescue workers and locals had managed to retrieve nine bodies, reporting 21 others as missing, presumably dead by the time. Fifteen passengers of the ill-fated boat, however survived, either by swimming to safety of the shores or being rescued by local fishermen and police.
Godfrey Opira, the Buliisa District chairperson of soccer referees, who witnessed the accident, confirmed that none of the frenzied merrymakers on-board the boat had worn life jackets.
The Sunday accident followed a similar accident on Lake Victoria on Friday which killed 20 people.
Fatal accidents are quite common on Ugandan waters. Back in November, a further 10 people lost their lives in Lake Albert, the seventh largest lake in Africa.