Uganda Party Boat Sinks on Lake Victoria

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On the evening of November 25th, at approximately 7:00 pm, nearly 100 Ugandan passengers suddenly realized that the vessel they thought was whisking them off to a lively party, was beginning to overturn. Around 90 of the individuals began to spill into the waters of Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world and the largest in Africa. The boat was boarding near Uganda’s capital, Kampala and was said to be well beyond the maximum capacity and a number of individuals were not wearing life jackets. Many eyewitnesses stated that people began to flail in the water; authorities say the shock was likely to have been increased due to intoxication from the party boat. Fortunately, there were two fishing boats that came to help rescue some of the passengers, but when government rescue teams arrived, they pulled around 30 lifeless bodies out of the waters.

The boat was said to have been in bad shape and the owner also did not have a license to operate the vessel. With a maximum capacity of about 50 people and 100 passengers on board, the trip was already looking a little shady. Evidently, the rough weather also made the lake waters worse, causing the float to be much more dangerous. Trouble began about halfway through the cruise when the boat overturned and started to sink. One passenger stated that they saw a speaker fall out and realized things were taking a bad turn. They had originally planned on traveling from one beach to another in the district Mukono.

People in the water began to scream as they attempted to swim to shore or tread water. A number of major names in Uganda such as Prince Daudi Wasajja, brother to the king of Uganda’s largest kingdom, were aboard the ship. According to BBC, there was also a music artist named Iryn Namubiru aboard.  Both were found and rescued. Unfortunately, the owner of the boat and his wife were among those that were not revived. A police helicopter had arrived and divers began to search for bodies in the water as a crowd of people stood at the shore waiting for their loved ones to be found. Authorities began taking bodies on a truck and many were rushed to hospitals.

These floats are supposedly quite common on Lake Victoria, but so are boat accidents.  It has been said that this is the second deadliest accident to occur on the lake, the first being in September when over 200 people died on an overloaded ferry that sank. President Yoweri Museveni tragically explained that “…the operators of this boat will be charged with criminal negligence and manslaughter, if they have not already been punished for their mistake by dying in the accident…”

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