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Uganda party boat capsizes on Lake Victoria, killing 29

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At least 29 people are now known to have died after a cruise boat carrying party revellers capsized on Lake Victoria, Ugandan police say.

The vessel was carrying close to 100 people when it sank on Saturday near Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

Ugandan media named a number of well-known people said to be on the boat, adding that the prince of a traditional kingdom had survived.

Lake Victoria sees regular accidents, often involving overcrowded vessels.

Scores of people died when a ferry sank on the lake off Tanzania in September.

Saturday’s accident occurred off Uganda’s Mukono district.

Deputy police spokesman Patrick Onyango told Reuters news agency: “The boat was overloaded and secondly there was bad weather.”

More than 20 people have been rescued from the water, police say, but an unknown number remain missing.

Cries from the shoreline

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga, at the scene

The families and friends of some of the people involved gathered by the shoreline. They sat under trees, looking through the wire fence and every time a body was pulled out of the water, there were screams and cries as some people recognised their loved ones.

On the grass some personal items were laid out – shoes, sweaters, wallets, keys – anything that could be used to identify the victims. Overhead the police deployed a helicopter to help search for more bodies that might have washed up by the shoreline – but they have given up hope that they will find any more survivors.

Among those rescued was Prince Daudi Kintu Wasajja, a brother of the king of Uganda’s largest traditional kingdom, Buganda.

Ugandan media said musical artist Iryn Namubiru also survived.

A number of other popular artists and socialites were believed to be on board.

The boat was reportedly hired out for weekend parties.

Many of those on board had no lifejackets.

Local officials said two small fishing boats that came to the rescue also became overloaded and sank.


Five things about Lake Victoria

  • With a surface area greater than Switzerland, Lake Victoria is the world’s second-biggest lake and the largest in Africa
  • Shared by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, some 30 million people depend on its resources
  • Challenges include pollution and falling water levels – biodiversity in Lake Victoria has dropped by 50% since the 1980s
  • English colonialist John Hanning Speke named it after Britain’s Queen Victoria when he travelled there in 1858
  • Some have called for the lake’s name to be changed – proposals include its Luganda-language name Nalubaale, and Lake Jumuiya which means “togetherness” in Swahili

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