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Uganda boating accident on Lake Albert kills many

Poor safety and changing weather conditions have led to a series of accidents on Lake Albert over the years

A boating accident on Lake Albert on the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has left at least 26 dead.

A “strong wind” sent the ship submerged underwater, a local official told AFP news agency.

Dozens of people were on board and at least 21 people were rescued, Ashraf Oromo said.

A naval officer said the lack of safety and changing weather conditions made accidents common on the lake.

The boat was traveling between two locations on the Ugandan side on Wednesday when high winds blew and it capsized.

Rescuers did not expect to find more survivors, Mr Oromo said. However, local media quoted the chief of the locality as suggesting the search was underway.

Congolese and Ugandan nationals were on board the boat and were among the victims, Tchovidong said.

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“Due to failure to comply with safety measures and rapidly changing weather conditions, Lake Albert has many accidents,” regional police officer Samuel Onyango told AFP.

An official said many victims were trying to re-enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) illegally to avoid the coronavirus restrictions that have stopped most trafficking between the DRC and Uganda, according to the Associated Press news agency.

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Vital Adubanga, president of the Wangongo chiefdom in Ituri province in eastern Congo, said night boats were banned but the ban was frequently ignored.

Many of those on board were traders trying to reach a weekly market, Mr. Adubanga as well as The Ugandan website told the Daily Monitor.

Lake Albert, which is Africa’s seventh largest lake, has been the scene of significant loss of life in previous boating accidents.

In 2014, more than 250 refugees died when a ship capsizes carrying far more people than its capacity.

And in another Christmas accident, in 2016, 30 members of a Ugandan football team drowned on the lake when a boat sank.

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