RUTSIRO - The 16th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rutsiro district kicked off on a sad note as over 20 people were by yesterday evening, not yet accounted for following a boat accident in Lake Kivu that was caused by a heavy storm.
By press time, six bodies had been recovered and of the 50 who miraculously survived the accident, 19 were admitted in critical conditions at Kibuye Hospital in Karongi district.
The total number of passengers on board was also not yet confirmed by press time, but officials but it at around 70.
The ill-fated engine boat was heading to Nyamunini Island on Lake Kivu to commemorate the Genocide in memory of the victims who were killed and dumped into the lake in 1994.
Those reported missing include top district officials like Felicien Nsigaye, the district’s Finance Director, Jean Marie Vianney Bitwarimana the procurement officer at the district and Alex Niyibizi, the assistant director of education.
Security sources could not readily establish the exact cause of the accident but most survivors who talked to the The New Times maintained that despite the windy weather at the time of the accident, the boat was also overloaded.
Protais Munyeshaka, the coxswain who also survived attributed the accident to storms on the lake as a result of strong winds.
“I have legal authorization of transporting 70 people in my boat. It is the strong wind that caused storms that forced the boat to overturn,” Munyeshaka said.
Addressing mourners later on during the commemoration, Western Province Governor Celestin Kabahizi, consoled the bereaved families and the district leadership which suffered a major blow.
“We are very sorry for our friends who attempted to join us in remembrance of victims of the ’94 Genocide but never made it. We extend our condolences to families of the deceased,” Kabahizi said.