Several people have perished in a Saturday ferry accident that occurred in the waters of Lake Victoria in Mpatta sub-county, Mukono district.
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. It was in and out of business, its operators allegedly dodging inspectors who wanted to impound the boat, said Aggrey Bagiire, the state minister for transport. "It can be fine on land but bad weather on the lake".
The marine units also set out on a mission of pulling the boat wreckage out of the waters "so as to establish if there are more bodies still trapped under". Inebriated partygoers suddenly found themselves flailing in the water, facing a life-or-death scenario.
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.
"They were shouting 'Help us!"
"Our rescue team is still on the ground trying to rescue whoever we can find", he said.
"According to one of the survivors there were more than 90 people on board", said Asuman Mugenyi, director of operations for the Uganda police.
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.
Image A body is carried on to shore
On the grass some personal items were laid out - shoes, sweaters, wallets, keys - anything that could be used to identify the victims.
Among the survivours of the accident is Prince David Wasajja, brother to Buganda king Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.
In a statement, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni said preliminary investigations indicated that the boat had a capacity 50 but almost 120 travelers were on board.
On Sunday, President Yoweri Museveni blamed the accident on overloading, saying the boat was carrying more than its capacity of 50.
"Such boats can not carry more than 50 people", said lawmaker Johnson Muyanja, who represents part of the district of Mukono, the site of the accident.
"27 rescued 29 confirmed dead.On going rescue operation at Mutima beach on lake Victoria". Officials said it was dangerously overcrowded.
"If people had help earlier so many more people would have survived", Matovo said. Compounding problems: It was market day, and the ferry was also loaded with supplies, including heavy bags of cement and corn.
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