TWENTY-SIX people on Thursday drowned after their boat capsized in Lake Victoria.The victims were travelling from Lugala to Hama Islands.
Eyewitnesses said the boat, which was overloaded with goods from Lugala market, capsized at Usenge, about 45 kilometres from Sigulu islands at around 5.30pm.
The Bugiri district deputy fisheries officer, Deogratious Mwogererwa, said the boat, which was carrying 50 people, was hit by strong waves, forcing it to capsize after reaching Usenge, a border point between the Kenyan and Ugandan waters.
Mwogererwa said the owner of the boat, only identified as Karim, had earlier been cautioned against overloading in vain.
â€œThey pretend by removing the things from the boat when you ask them why they are overloaded but when you leave, they abuse you, claiming you lack what to do,â€ he said.
This is the worst boat accident in the area in the last 10 years.
In 2004, 14 people drowned in Lake Victoria, after their boat capsized, killing all people on board.
A survivor in the Thursday boat accident, Francis Okiror, said the boat ran out of fuel about two hours after leaving the Lugala landing site.
Okiror, speaking on phone from Subaah Island Hospital in Kenya, said only a few people were wearing life jackets by the time of the accident.
â€œSome other people were just keeping the jackets and atttempted to rush for them when the waves blew but could not quickly put them on,â€ he said.
He said he managed to survive death by holding firmly onto an empty jerycan only to be rescued by fishermen from the Kenyan side of the lake 45 minutes later.
By press time, 14 bodies, including that of a mother and two of her children had been retrieved from Subaah Island.
Five of the dead were indentified as John Wandera, a businessman on Hama Island, James Kaleba, also a businessman, Proscovia Akisa, a salon operator, Farouk Makokha and Benon Musikho.
The district Police commander, Dan Byaruhanga, said they were working to retrieve the remaining bodies from the lake.
Byaruhanga said security personnel had been put on alert to ensure recovery of the AK47 rifle that Francis Ojakol, a Policeman, lost. Ojakol however survived.
26 drown in Bugiri boat accident