Friday 14 December 2018

At least 35 dead as unlicensed cruise boat capsizes

Grim duty: A volunteer retrieves the bodies of passengers from Lake Victoria. Photo: Reuters
Grim duty: A volunteer retrieves the bodies of passengers from Lake Victoria. Photo: Reuters

Rodney Muhumuza

Divers have retrieved 35 bodies and are expected to find more in a cruise boat that capsized in Lake Victoria off the Ugandan coast, making it one of the country's worst maritime disasters.

The vessel was believed to be overcrowded with nearly 100 passengers, said police spokeswoman Zurah Ganyana. At least 27 people were rescued overnight.

The boat, on a routine pleasure cruise and full of mostly youthful revellers, sank at about 7pm on Saturday .

Among the many tragic stories was one of a man who went out to help rescue people and drowned when he was dragged underwater by a desperate passenger.

The MV Templa was in poor condition, had been grounded for some time and lacked a licence to operate. Marine police tried to prevent the boat from going on the cruise, but they were overruled by the presence of two local princes among the passengers.

"Such boats cannot carry more than 50 people," said local councillor Johnson Muyanja.

Irish Independent

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