Tanzania: Death Toll in Lake Victoria Tragedy Reaches 196

Clay Curtis
September 24, 2018

A survivor has been pulled out of a capsized ferry on Lake Victoria in Tanzania, two days after the boat sunk with as many as 300 people on board.

The definitive cause of the capsizing is not yet known but officials have said preliminary investigation shows the ferry was carrying more people than legally permitted.

Divers plucked the man, the ship's engineer, from inside the sunken MV Nyerere ferry in Lake Victoria after hearing sounds coming from inside the submerged vessel.

Another Tanzanian official, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella, told reporters that an engineer was found alive near the engine of the capsized vessel.

"The ferry overturned very fast and covered us", survivor Charles Ngarima said.

In an address Friday, Magufuli said the captain left the ferry's steering in the hands of an untrained person. The man's condition was not immediately clear.

Residents and relatives of the victims of the MV Nyerere passenger ferry wait for news and observe rescue efforts on Ukara Island, Tanzania, September 22, 2018.

"This is a great disaster for our nation", Magufuli said, announcing four days of national mourning.

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Divers continued their grim search in the waters around the upturned hull watched by anxious crowds gathered just metres away on the shore of Ukara Island, where the ferry had been due to dock when it lurched over and sank on Thursday. "That is how I survived", she said.

Witnesses said the ferry sank when passengers rushed to one side to disembark as it approached the dock. Ferries in Tanzania are often overcrowded, with the lack of an accurate passenger manifest complicating rescue operations.

In the poor Tanzania, the incidents of boat capsizing are common. We urge the government to take care of us. "We have repeatedly denounced this negligence".

Accidents are not uncommon on Lake Victoria, which straddles Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, as well as on the Indian Ocean, which borders Tanzania.

And almost 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

In 2011, 192 people were killed when a heavily overloaded ferry capsized between the country's most populous city, Dar es Salaam, and the tourist island of Unguja (referred to informally as Zanzibar).

It is learnt that the ferry is carrying almost 400 people.

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