25 March 2014
Civilians have been involved in rescue operations
Rescue workers in Uganda have so far recovered 107 bodies, including those of 57 children, after a boat capsized on Saturday on Lake Albert, a government minister has said.
The boat was taking refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo back to their home country when it capsized.
It had a capacity to carry only 80 passengers, but up to 250 people were on board, officials said.
Boat accidents are common in Uganda because of poor safety standards.
Boats are often overloaded and do not carry life jackets.
Uganda’s Refugees Minister Hillary Onek said the police, the military’s marine units and civilian fishing boats were all involved in rescue operations.
The 107 bodies recovered so far included those of 63 men, 44 women and 57 children, he said.
“The exact number of passengers on board has yet to be established,” Mr Onek added.
On Monday, the UN high commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres said he was deeply shocked by the disaster.
“My thoughts are with those who have lost dear ones, and the survivors,” he said in a statement.
“I am grateful to the government and other actors who have mounted a rescue-and-recovery operation and are assisting the survivors.”
The boat was one of two which left on Saturday from Uganda’s Hoima district on the eastern side of the lake, which lies on the border with DR Congo.
The boats were carrying refugees who had been living at a camp in Uganda, and had decided to return to eastern DR Congo of their own accord, the UNHCR said.