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The ill-fated vessel capsized Saturday early evening about 200 metres from the mainland in Mpatta sub-county in Mukono district, central Uganda.

Mr Kikongo said first responders were among the victims. In the scramble that ensued as the boat sank, a lot of people jumped onto a canoe that arrived within minutes to rescue the victims.

"Such boats can not carry more than 50 people", said lawmaker Johnson Muyanja, who represents part of the district of Mukono, the site of the accident.

More people died at this incident too, he recalled.

"Fishermen on two small boats could see that the boat was sinking and went to help".

A person cliaming to be Iryn's manager said she was among those who were safe, local media claism. The boat was traveling from a private beach and had a capacity of 50 people - but was unregistered, unlicensed and possibly uninsured.

Among those who were in the boat at the time of the accident is Prince David Wasajja, the brother of Buganda King Kabaka Ronald Mutebi who was rescued alive.

Some of the revelers on the boat before it capsized
Some of the revelers on the boat before it capsized

Richard Kikongo, a local official, described the distinctive boat -- which sported shark-style teeth painted on the bow -- as "not in good condition". "It can be fine on land but bad weather on the lake".

The survivors who were able to be rescued on Saturday night were shortly whisked away in a bus as the rescue mission continued.

Police spokesman Emilian Kayima said rescue efforts were continuing. No information was provided by police on how many people may still be missing.

Lake Victoria is the site of many boat disasters.

Boat accidents are increasingly common on East Africa's large lakes, including Lake Victoria, which is surrounded by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, and is larger than Switzerland.

The boat was taking passengers on a pleasure cruise on Lake Victoria, a popular weekend activity for young people in Kampala, when it capsized close to shore.

It is not uncommon for ferries to capsize on the lake and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many local people can not swim.


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