prostate http://cooperativenet.com/wp-content/plugins/ubermenu/ubermenu.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>The heavily-loaded boat carrying escaping Congolese refugees was moving from Senjojo in Kyangwali Hoima to Ntoroko district and capsized near Kitebere landing site at about 10am in Ndaiga Sub County.
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Rescue efforts by the people at Kitebere led to the retrieval of 19 bodies of which 14 were children and 5 Adults whose bodies were taken by Kibaale district speed boat to Ntoroko Hospital Mortuary for post-mortem.
By Saturday late evening, over 40 bodies were still trapped under the waters of Lake Albert though rescue efforts by Marine Police and profession divers had reached on Sunday morning to hunt for the bodies.
“It’s true the marine police had been dispatched to begin the process of hunting for the missing bodies but we are sure that the bodies will be retrieved from the waters,” said Ojokuna John Elatu the District Police Commander Kibaale.
However, Ojokuna says preliminary investigations indicate the missing bodies are between 30 to 40 following an interrogation of the manager for the ill-fated boat.
The United Nations high commissioner for Refugees and government of Uganda reached an agreement of hosting Congolese refugees from Kamango at Kyangwali Refugee camp in Hoima district after they had been displaced by war perpetrated by Allied Democratic forces-ADF.
Cause of Boat Capsizing
The boat set off from Senjojo landing site at 8:14am on Saturday on to Ntoroko landing site through Kitebere with over 100 people on board.
The boat with a capacity of 12 tonnes is reported to have been using an engine of 4 wooze power.
Pastor Mudest Kasong 36, a survivor who lost all his family of 7 in the Lake, said that they started their journey with all hope of reaching home following the poor medical services and hunger they had faced at Kyangwali Refugee Camp in Hoima.
Mr Mudest revealed that the boat was overloaded with over 100 people and the pilot was drinking waragi packed in polythene papers and at a high speed.
“We actually escaped from Kyangwali Camp because of lack of food for the last 2 months and we could not expect that mistreatment since we had gone there due to war and trauma in our homeland Kamango in the
Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Mudest.
He added that they got food at Kyangwali Refugee camp during the first weeks of reporting.
“I have lost the whole of my family of 7 in the waters and the bodies are still missing, even if they are retrieved or not I am not going back to Kyangwali camp where there is no food at least I go back to the ancestral home in Kamango and die there” said Mudest.
Some of the survivors disclosed the boat was overloaded with mattresses, suitcases and other utensils belonging to the refugees.
Costa Toyokana ,22, who lost 5 relatives, said “we were so many on the boat which was overloaded.”
“The pilot asked us to pay shs9,000 shillings only and we thought it was an opportunity since other boats would charge between Shs11,000 and shs14,000,” said Toyokana.
The DPC Kibaale John Ojokuna Elatu said 3 people who include the Pilot identified as Ocelle and two managers have been arrested to help in investigations.
“These people knew it that the boat didn’t have the capacity to carry over 100 people and as Police we are to charge them with traffic offenses and driving under the influence of Alcohol,” said Ojokuna.
The Regional Police Commander Bunyoro Charles Ssebambulide has now pitched camped at Kitebere landing site to oversee the retrieval of the remaining 40 bodies from the waters of Lake Albert.