Boat accident in Western Uganda kills at least 19: police

KAMPALA Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:50am EDT

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KAMPALA (Reuters) - At least 19 people were killed and dozens of others were missing on Saturday after a boat carrying mostly Congolese refugees capsized in a lake that runs along the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, police said.

Local fishermen and nearby passenger boats helped pull 43 survivors from the water but at least another 34 people were missing and feared dead, police said.

"We are still investigating but we've been told that the cause was overloading," Lydia Tumushade, a police spokeswoman for Uganda's Albertine region, told Reuters by telephone.

Lake Albert is about 160 km (100 miles) long and 30 km wide and is the northernmost of a chain of lakes in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the Rift Valley.

The boat began its journey at the northern end of the lake and was heading south to a landing site on the Ugandan shoreline when it ran into trouble at around 1030 a.m. (02:30 am ET).

Popular with local traders, boats criss-cross the lake linking the towns and villages that dot the shore.

Accidents are relatively common on Uganda's lakes, which include Lake Victoria and Lake Edward, due to overloading, lack of maintenance and lax enforcement of safety standards.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Richard Lough and Andrew Roche)

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