Friday March 25 2016

Buliisa storm: 24 bodies recovered

Fishermen at Walukuba Landing Site in Buliisa

Fishermen at Walukuba Landing Site in Buliisa district.. Photo by Francis Mugerwa 

By Francis Mugerwa


The death toll from the devastating storm that hit Buliisa District on Tuesday morning has risen to 24.
Eyewitnesses said the storm followed a heavy downpour that started at about 1am.

“We have so far retrieved 24 bodies from the lake but residents fear the death toll could be higher. We are still investigating,” Buliisa District police commander John Rutagira told the Daily Monitor yesterday.

High number
He said the bodies recovered have surpassed the 17 people that were reported to be missing. Police and locals have identified 17 of the recovered bodies. Seven are yet to be identified and claimed by relatives. On Tuesday, 10 people were believedto have died but their bodies had not been retrieved. On Wednesday, six bodies were recovered floating on Lake Albert.

According to Police, the storm destroyed various houses along Butiaba and Walukuba landing sites and several fishermen are feared dead.

Mr Rutagira said police investigators have so far compiled a list of 608 houses that were destroyed by the storm. The affected settlements are located in the Albertine rift valley floor. The search for other missing people is underway.

A desperate search for survivors is underway. The Police marine unit has teamed up with local leaders and fishermen in search of those who may have survived the devastating storm. Security agents are verifying reports that some boats capsised in Lake Albert.
Police have identified the bodies recovered so far as those of Alex Okumu, 30, from Butiaba Sub-county, Francis Okello, Osaga Collin and Oryema Onencan.

Among the dead is a one-and-half year old baby, Ofwoyo Irwoth and one only identified as Joram, a 45-year-old resident of Walukuba Landing Site.

Others recovered include Mupenzi Kabwana, 37, Geoffrey Komakeck, Okello Moses, Sande, Jaa, Ngabi, Ocai, Maxwell Okello, Peter Omirambe, Dennis Ocirican and Omirambe.

Property destroyed
The storm destroyed various structures including Butiaba Primary School, Butiaba Seed Secondary School, Nyamukuta Primary School whose roofs were blown off.

According to the Butiaba Subcounty district councillor, Mr Geoffrey Openjitho, the storm also destroyed Walukuba Market, electricity wires at Butiaba Landing Site, Walukuba Catholic Church, Walukuba Church of Uganda and Pentecostal Church of Uganda.

Mr Openjitho told the Daily Monitor that iron sheets from other houses injured Onencan Pikerimipyoro, a pastor of Pentecostal Church of Uganda. “He has been rushed to a hospital in Nebbi District with two children who sustained multiple injuries,” he said.
Butiaba Health Centre III was also ravaged by the storm.