Football authorities in Uganda have expressed their “deep sorrow” after fans and players of a village football team died when their boat capsized on Lake Albert.
Police said on Monday that at least 30 people drowned when the vessel, said to have been well over its capacity, overturned after becoming unbalanced on the water.
The boat was carrying players and supporters of a local team from the village of Kaweibanda, who were travelling for a Christmas Day friendly match in Hoima district.
“Federation of Uganda Football Associations is in deep sorrow following the loss of lives on footballers and fans of a village team from Buliisa district,” a FUFA statement read.
“The unfortunate incident that led to the loss of lives happened on Sunday when a boat on which the fans and players were travelling on capsized on Lake Albert in Western Uganda.”
FUFA president Moses Magogo said: “Our condolences go out to the people of the Kitara region Football Association following the loss of Buliisa Football club players and fans on Lake Albert. We are with you during these trying times.
“We know how much football brings joy to communities, especially during the festive season. It was an unfortunate incident for our fans and players.”
The number of lives lost is not yet known but local reports on Monday said that only 15 people had been rescued from the water, with fishermen helping authorities in their efforts.
Police commander John Rutagira told AFP: “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.
“The water was calm but the problem came when the merrymaking team and fans tilted on one side of the boat. It capsized, killing about 30 people.”
Boating accidents are not uncommon in Ugandan waters. Last Friday, 20 people are said to have been killed in similar circumstances on Lake Victoria, while 10 people drowned in Lake Albert on the country’s western shore last November.
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