Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Cargo Ship Sinks After Collision

A Ugandan cargo ship sank in Lake Victoria after colliding with another vessel owned by the same company, but all 25 crew members were rescued, government officials said on Monday. The Kabalega and the Kaawa, also a cargo ship, collided early on Sunday about 60 nautical miles south of Port Bell on the Ugandan shores of Africa's biggest lake. Transport Minister John Nasasira said Ugandan experts would liaise with counterparts from neighbouring Tanzania and Kenya to discover the cause of the accident. Relatives cheered from Port Bell docks as the crew returned on the Kaawa and a third cargo ship after a rescue involving several speedboats, a light aircraft and a Ugandan army helicopter. The $8-million Kabalega, owned by Uganda Railways Corporation, was carrying 840 tons of wheat from Mwanza in northern Tanzania when it met the Kaawa travelling the other way. The ship's insurance had lapsed, Nasasira said. Tim Cooper, a pilot who flew his Cessna plane over the Kabalega, said the Belgian-built vessel was lying on its side leaking oil. It took eight hours to sink. "We are talking of a vessel as big as a block of flats ... slowly sinking to 160 feet below the water surface," he told the state-owned New Vision newspaper. In Lake Victoria's worst shipping disaster, more than 800 people drowned in May 1996 when a ferry from the Tanzanian port of Bukoba capsized on its way to Mwanza.
The MV Kabalega

A Lake Rescue rapid response craft escorts MV Kaawa back to Port Bell

The damaged MV Kaawa during inspection of the ferry at Port Bell, Luzira yesterday

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