About 50 people are feared dead after a boat in which they were traveling capsized on Lake Albert this morning.
The boat was moving from Hoima district to Ntoroko district and reportedly capsized at about 10am.
The Midwestern Regional Police Commander Mr Charles Ssembabulidde said they were investigating the cause of the accident.
“Preliminary information indicates that the boat was transporting some Congolese refugees who boarded the boat from Bugoma landing site and were heading to Ntororo district in order for them to cross to the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Ssembabulidde said.
Preliminary investigations showed majority of victims were refugees from Kyangwali refugee camp.
Ssembabulidde said the boat capsized around Kitebere landing site in Kibaale district. Lake Albert straddles the Uganda-DR Congo border.
“I have been informed that 27 people have been rescued and eight bodies retrieved,” Ssembabulidde said.
The survivors, according to police, were saved by fishermen who saw the accident happen. Ssembabulidde said preliminary information he received from the residents indicated the boat was carrying over 100 people.
By press time, volunteers and the police marine officials had begun a joint search for bodies and missing people.
Ndaiga sub-county chairman Mr Oscar Chunyai who joined the search efforts said by 12.30pm, the volunteers had rescued 36 people.
“We found them trapped in the boat that capsized. We have also recovered 19 bodies but we expect more bodies,” Chunyai said.
Mr Chunyai in whose sub-county the accident occurred said local leaders had a Kibaale district local government boat to transport the bodies to Ntoroko health centre for post mortem report.
In August 2010, an overloaded boat capsized on the Ugandan side of Lake Albert at night, killing at least 33 people but 17 survived.
In September 2008, at least 18 people drowned at Nguse landing site in Kibaale district after their boat capsized on the same lake. Police said the boat, which was in dangerous mechanical condition, capsized due to over-loading and over-speeding.