Lake Victoria, African lifeline regularly hit by sinkings

2018-09-21 20:36
Lake Victoria ( File, iStock)

Lake Victoria ( File, iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lake Victoria is the biggest lake in Africa and crossed every day by scores of boats that are often poorly maintained and overloaded, making them vulnerable to poor weather.

Here is some background on the vast lake where more than 100 people drowned on Thursday when a ferry capsized.

 Largest in Africa 

With a surface of 70 000 square kilometres, oval-shaped Lake Victoria is the biggest on the African continent.

Shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, it provides the livelihood for some 30 million people, many of them poor and dependent on fishing.

The lake has however seen a dramatic fall in water levels since 2003 and increased pollution.

English explorer John Hanning Speke named it after Britain's Queen Victoria after he reached it in 1858 during an expedition.

 Regular deadly sinkings 

Many of the ferries, fishing boats and other vessels that cross the vast lake daily, linking its ports and islands, are in poor condition or overloaded.

Navigation can also become as dangerous as on the high seas when the weather deteriorates, with fierce storms often striking.

Sinkings occur regularly and can leave many dead. There are often no life jackets onboard and a large part of the population cannot swim.

Since 2000 there have been a dozen sinkings on the lake with heavy death tolls.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Around 20 people were killed in December 2016 when their boat overturned, and in March 2012, a boat believed to be carrying around 60 people capsized leaving only two survivors.

800 drown in 1996 

The deadliest ever was on May 21, 1996, when a Tanzanian passenger and cargo ferry, the MV Bukoba, went down about nine kilometres from the town of Mwanza.

More than 800 people were believed to have drowned, according to a toll released by the Red Cross.

The ferry was unseaworthy and was carrying hundreds more than its capacity of 441 passengers when it sank in 30 metres of water.

Worsening weather risk 

Every year, between 3 000 and 5 000 fishermen die in violent storms on the lake, Red Cross figures show.

A study published in 2016 in the scientific journal Nature Communications said climate changes caused by global warming could cause more frequent and dangerous storms on the great lake.

Superstorms that today only occur once every 15 years would likely happen every year if global warming continues apace, it said.

Read more on:    kenya  |  tanzania  |  uganda  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.