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Uganda

Up to 30 drown after Christmas ferry accident in Uganda

At least 30 people reportedly drowned Christmas Day when their boat overturned on Lake Albert in western Uganda. The victims included members of a local football team and their supporters.

Ugandan police reported on Monday that 21 people are missing and nine bodies have been recovered after a ferry transporting a local football team and their supporters on the way to a game capsized. The ferry was reportedly overloaded and many on the boat were intoxicated.

Ugandan police with the help of local fishermen were able to rescue 15 people. The group was on their way to watch a friendly Christmas Day match in a nearby village.

"There was a party on the boat, the passengers were dancing and others were drunk. The boat was overloaded with 45 people, all members of the football team and local fans," police commander John Rutagira told AFP.

"The water was calm but the problem came in when the merry-making team and fans tilted to one side of the boat. It capsized killing about 30 people," he added.

Uganda Schiffsunglück Lake Albert (Getty Images/AFP/M. Siiloni)

Local fishermen joined the police in the search-and-rescue operation

The majority of ferries used in Uganda are locally-made wooden boats with planks for seating and a small outboard motor. The ferries are often overloaded and passengers are usually not offered life vests.

One of the survivors told the local Daily Monitor newspaper that he survived after swimming for almost an hour to shore.

According to local reports, one of those killed was an 18-year-old woman who went to cheer for her local team. She leaves behind a five-month-old baby.

Fatal accidents are frequent on Ugandan waters. Just three days earlier, a ferry accident on Lake Victoria - which makes up Uganda's southern border - killed 20 people. Last November, 10 people drowned when a ferry capsized on Lake Albert.