By John Odyek
TWENTY bodies have been recovered but up to 40 others are feared to still be in the waters after a boat disaster on Lake Albert on Saturday morning.
The search continues after 45 people were rescued by police and fishermen at Kitebere landing site in Ndaiga in Kibaale district. Up to 60 passengers are believed to have died after the boat they were traveling in capsized.
Many of the over 100 passengers of the ill-fated overloaded vessel were traders and Congolese refugees returning home , police said. They were en route to the DR Congo from Kyangwali and Bugoma in Hoima district when they encountered mechanical difficulty in Kitenile, leading to the boat capsizing.
The incident occurred just after 8.00am.
A health official at Ntoroko Health Center III where the bodies were retrieved said they did not have formalin to treat the bodies and they lacked stretchers to move the bodies from the lake side.
Jenniffer Mujungu told the New Vision on phone from Ntoroko that there were 15 bodies of children and five bodies of adults lying on the floor at Ntoroko Health Center III.
“These were refugees coming from Kyangwale Refugee Settlement Camp in Hoima district. The boat capsized near Kitebi landing site between 8.00am to 9.00am on Saturday morning,” Mujungu said.
BBC map of Lake Albert in Uganda
“I am here at the Health Centre and the dead bodies are lying on the floor. The center lacks facilities. We need help,” Mujungu said. She said there was no burial ground in the area because it is a fishing village and the other side of the place is surrounded by a national park.
Mujungu said the refugees were impatient to return home because of the relative peace in Congo and did not want to wait for road transport provided by government and UN agencies.
Four years ago, some 70 people were involved in a fatal boat fatality when their boat capsized on Lake Albert - also on a Saturday. Many were killed in one of the worst boat disasters in Uganda's history.
In the 2010 accident, the fateful vessel carried traders, school children, luggage and tonnes of fish.
Seventy killed in Lake Albert disaster