Death toll rises to more than 160 after Tanzania ferry disaster - UPDATED

  22 September 2018    Read: 2273
Death toll rises to more than 160 after Tanzania ferry disaster - UPDATED

The number of people killed when a ferry capsized on Tanzania's Lake Victoria has now reached more than 160. The MV Nyerere ferry capsized just metres from the dock on the island of Ukerewe on Thursday afternoon.

An official in the country also says four navy divers are still searching the wreckage for survivors after hearing sounds that suggested signs of life. It's believed the vessel was overcrowded with more than 300 people on board.

However, it's still not known exactly how many people were on board the boat, amid reports it was only meant for around 100 people. The captain is being questioned, while Tanzania's president John Magufuli has also ordered the arrests of those responsible for operating the ferry.

Four days of national mourning have also been declared in the country following the disaster.

Lake Victoria - Africa's largest lake - is spread across Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The have been several major ferry disasters on the lake over the years, with more than 800 people killed when the MV Bukoba sank in 1996.

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21/09/2018 ; 23:36

Rescuers in Tanzania have retrieved at least 136 bodies a day after a ferry sank on Lake Victoria, the top police official said, but scores more are missing, Reuters reported.

The ferry MV Nyerere capsized just a few meters from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake’s biggest island, which is part of Tanzania. Initial estimates suggested that the ferry was carrying more than 300 people.

In an address to the nation, President John Magufuli declared four days of mourning and warned against politicizing the disaster.

“Let’s leave designated authorities to investigate,” he said. Some opposition politicians say the government responded late to the sinking.

State-owned Taifa Leo reported on its website on Friday that top officials of the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) would be questioned in regard to the accident. Preliminary investigations, the paper said, showed the ferry had carried more passengers than its capacity permitted.

Thirty-seven people had been rescued from the lake, Jonathan Shana, the regional police commander for the port of Mwanza on the south coast of the lake told Reuters.

Shana said more rescuers had joined the operation when it resumed at daylight on Friday. He did not give exact numbers.

The precise number of those aboard the ferry when it capsized was hard to establish since crew and equipment had been lost, officials said on Thursday.

Tanzania has been hit by several major ferry disasters over the years. At least 500 people were killed when a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria in 1996. In 2012, 145 people died when a ferry sank off the shore of the archipelago of Zanzibar.


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