Some more nine people have been discovered dead and their bodies retrieved from the boat wreckage from Saturday’s tragic incident on Lake Victoria, according to UPDF.
The UPDF Deputy Spokesperson, Lt Col Deo Akiiki reported on Sunday that the UPDF marine divers “have located and marked the wreckage”.
He said the marine divers are working with Police to rescue bodies trapped in the wreckage.
“So far they have recovered 9 of the trapped bodies who adds to the 13 recovered last night. More being got,” Lt Col Akiiki said.
The latest update by the army increases the death toll from the incident from 13 as reported by Police on Saturday.
While Police had initially said that 40 people had been rescued, UPDF has confirmed on Sunday that only 26 were rescued.
“Our marine unit teams have rescued over 40 people alive. Ten confirmed dead. The rescue mission is still on to find others. Details to follow,” Police had said in a tweet on Saturday.
But there are fears that the number of deaths could rise.
The boat, said to be K-Palm which docks at Gaba landing site was according to a poster for the excursion, destined for Motala Island from Luzira.
Lt Col Deo Akiiki said that Airforce and Police helicopter have deployed air surveillance to locate possible floating bodies.
One of the survivors narrated that they had fun and the boat had stopped in the middle of the lake and that some people were reporting a leak, however others ignored it.
“Water was coming from down, but none of us noticed. But later on, people started to complain about the water. Still, few believed it,” an unidentified survivor narrates in an audio file supposedly sent to a friend moments after the incident.
She says one of the staffers on the deck advised the partiers to spread themselves on the boat so as to balance the weight.
“He told us ‘Don’t sit on one side. Scatter yourselves and balance the boat’. Of course people were drunk, they couldn’t listen. People were drinking, others were smoking shisha. People were having fun,” the survivor said.
She says that a canoe containing fishermen approached and that the men on it began yelling that the boat was sinking.
“They were moving on a canoe with an engine. They started offering to take some of us. They kept saying the boat was going to sink. But nobody cared. So, guys started jumping on the canoe”.
“That’s when I advised my friend Sandra to jump on the canoe”.
She said about 15 to 20 people were taken on the canoe. It is upon docking that they learnt that the boat had capsized. She said there were “mob” people.
“But to make matters worse, there were no life jackets. Few people had life jackets”.
What is unclear is why the personnel in charge of the boat did not act by calling in rescue teams if indeed there was a leak on the boat. It also highlights the issue of safety for people on deck, given that the majority of them had no life jackets.
It also appears that the boat lacked any or adequate boats in case of an emergency evacuation.