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Photo of capsized migrant boat on Libyan coast, not water bus accident on Lake Victoria

On 2 May 2020 news emerged that a ferry had capsized on the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria. It was later reported that all 20 people on board the water bus had been rescued.

But within hours, a photo was posted on Facebook with the claim it was of the accident. It shows a large boat upended in open water, with dozens of people in the water around it and five climbing on its hull.

“A ferry with an unknown number of passengers has capsized in Lake Victoria. The boat popularly known as Water Bus is said to have been plying the Mageta Island—Usenge beach route in Siaya County when the incident occurred,” the caption reads.

But does the photo really show the vessel that capsized in Lake Victoria? We rowed through the facts.

Migrants rescued off Libyan coast

A reverse image search reveals that the photo is four years old and from Libya.

It was taken by the Italian navy and first published by Reuters on 25 May 2016. It shows a boat carrying migrants that capsized off the Libyan coast.

The Reuters caption reads: “Migrants are seen on a capsizing boat before a rescue operation by Italian navy ships ‘Bettica’ and ‘Bergamini’ off the coast of Libya in this handout picture released by the Italian Marina Militare on May 25, 2016.”

The boat that capsized on Lake Victoria on 2 May 2020 belongs to the Waterbus Limited company. It is a catamaran ferry, according to the company’s founder, Malcolm Ormiston. 

A press release by the company after the crash said the vessel, MV Ringiti, “was struck by a large wave, and the starboard hull was damaged”. – Dancan Bwire


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