Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Scores feared dead as Tanzanian ferry sinks in Lake Victoria

MV Nyerere ferry that plies Bugorora Ukala Island route after it capsized in Lake Victoria on Thursday Sepember 20 2018. /COURTESY MV Nyerere ferry that plies Bugorora Ukala Island route after it capsized in Lake Victoria on Thursday Sepember 20 2018. /COURTESY
Patty Aguilar | 21 September, 2018, 09:15

And 37 have been rescued, John Mongella, Mwanza's commissioner said.

A local official cited by the BBC said the vessel was overloaded with more than 400 people, with other reports stating that some 300 passengers were on board. "It is feared that a significant number have lost their lives", said George Nyamaha, head of Ukerewe district council.

Rescue teams are expected to resume their search for hundreds of missing ferry passengers Friday, after a dangerously overcrowded boat capsized on Lake Victoria in Tanzania's north. It went down in the afternoon just a few metres from the dock near Ukara Island in Ukerewe district, according to national ferry services operator Temesa.

Boat disasters are frequent on Tanzania's waters, where ferries often exceed their capacity.

What caused the ferry to capsize is not yet known but accidents on Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, are common.

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More than 800 people died in 1996 when the MV Bukoba capsized.

- There was no incident reported to the operator, Tanzania's Electrical and Mechanical Services Agency (Temesa), in the course of journey, officials say.

Capsizes are not uncommon in the massive lake, and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many people in the region can not swim.

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

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