Dozens dead in L.Victoria boat accident

The ill-fated boat that capsized

The ill-fated boat that capsized

Several people have perished in a Saturday ferry accident that occurred in the waters of Lake Victoria in Mpatta sub-county, Mukono district. 

Although police spokesperson Emilian Kayima yesterday said marine police had rescued 40 people who were on board, deputy army spokesperson Lt Col. Deo Akiki today said only 27 people were rescued alive. 

30 bodies have so far been retrieved from the waters. Police has indeed revised its figures and confirmed that only 27 people were rescued last night. Among the dead is vessel owner Templar Bisase, fisherman Bosco Owecho who was among the first responders to the tragedy and is said to have been overwhelmed by the weight of those he was attempting to rescue.

Akiiki said the chances of finding any more survivors are diminishing after being in the waters for over 12 hours and counting. The ferry reportedly had more than than 100 people on board according to some of the survivors. 

Approximately 120 people are said to have been on the boat and some survivors said it was overloaded although the registration list had only 104 names. It's possible that some passengers may not have registered while boarding. According to police sources, more than 70 people are still missing.

The blue boat that capsized belongs to the management of KK Palm beach on Mpatta island in Mukono district. The boat usually docks at Ggaba landing site to take partiers to KK Palm beach every weekend. This particular cruise had been marketed as an end of year boat cruise and attracted several middle class passengers, socialites and celebrities including Buganda kingdom prince David Wasajja, artists Iryn Namubiru, The Mith among others.

Among the dead are local fishermen who rushed to rescue people from the sinking ferry that was reportedly taking in water through a hole at the base after it was perforated by the tractor that was used to 'push' the ferry into the waters from it's repair centre. One rescue boat reportedly got overloaded by the survivors who were by now fighting for the few available life jackets. The rescue boat also sank, drowning more people.  

According to accounts by some of the survivors, the ferry started sipping in water through  hole and although passengers were told to spread out so as to 'balance' the ferry, they were too drunk and in party mood to listen to the warnings. Also, videos and pictures posted on social media by the revelers before the accident show several people without life jackets.

According to some survivors, the captain of the ship reportedly warned the passengers that the boat had a mechanical fault and wanted to cancel the cruise and dock near a rock for the passengers to get as they waited for rescuers. Rescue boats were reportedly dispatched but turned back after seeing that the ferry was continuing with its voyage after passengers insisted on first getting to their destination.  

Meanwhile, the police and the army marine units have located the wreckage of the ferry and Akiiki said some nine bodied had been retrieved with many more still trapped inside. 

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd