Poor safety and changing weather have led to a series of accidents on Lake Albert over years
A boat accident on Lake Albert on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has left at least 26 people dead.
A “strong wind” caused the vessel to go under water, a local official told AFP news agency.
Dozens of people were on board and at least 21 people were rescued, Ashraf Oromo said.
A marine officer said poor safety and fast-changing weather meant accidents were common on the lake.
The boat was travelling between two locations on the Ugandan side on Wednesday when strong winds blew up and it capsized.
Rescuers did not expect to find any more survivors, Mr Oromo said. However, local media quoted the chief of the locality who suggested that the search was ongoing
Both Congolese and Ugandan nationals were on the boat and were among the victims, Mr Tchovidong said.
“Because of failure to adhere to safety measures and fast-changing weather patterns, Lake Albert has many accidents,” regional police marine officer Samuel Onyango told AFP.
One official said that many of the victims were trying to return illegally to the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) to avoid the coronavirus restrictions that have stopped most traffic between the DRC and Uganda, according to the Associated Press news agency.
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Vital Adubanga, president of the Wangongo chiefdom in eastern Congo’s Ituri province, said that night boats were prohibited but the ban was frequently ignored.
Many of those on board were traders attempting to reach a weekly market, Mr Adubanga as well as Ugandan website The Daily Monitor said.
Lake Albert, which is Africa’s seventh-largest lake, has been the scene of considerable loss of life in previous boat accidents.
In 2014, more than 250 refugees died when a vessel capsized while 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.