Ferry tragedy: More than 200 feared dead in Tanzania

Friday September 21 2018

Rescue operations on Lake Victoria

Rescue operations on Lake Victoria after a ferry overturned on September 21, 2018 in northern Tanzania. PHOTO | NMG 

By The EastAfrican
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At least 126 people have died and 40 others have been rescued after a ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized in Lake Victoria, Tanzania.

MV Nyerere sank on Thursday afternoon on its way to Ukara Island from Bugolora Island, in Mwanza.

The vessels is believed to have had hundreds of people on board.

This is what we know about the latest maritime tragedy so far:

  • Brisk business: It was a market day in Bugolora and passengers on MV Nyerere were aplenty.
  • Passenger numbers: It is unclear how many people were on board since the ticketing officer was among those perished. The officer's records and machine have not been found yet. Sources say the 100-capacity ferry could have had more than 300 people on board.

    "There were more than a hundred passengers on board when the ferry sank. It is feared that a significant number have lost their lives," said George Nyamaha, head of Ukerewe District Council in Mwanza.

Rescue operations on Lake Victoria

Rescue operations on Lake Victoria after a ferry overturned on September 21, 2018 in northern Tanzania. PHOTO | NMG

  • Cargo: The vessel is believed to also have carried cargo above its capacity. Among the cargo were bags of cement, sacks of maize, and traders' merchandise.
  • Vessel: The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency (Temesa), which operates ferry services, said the MV Nyerere did not have any mechanical problems because heavy maintenance had been carried on it in recent months including overhauling two engines.
  • Disaster: According to Temesa, the vessel toppled over as it prepared to dock at Ukara Island. It is believed that it toppled over when crowds on board moved to one side as it docked. WATCH VIDEO

Members of public stand on the shores of Lake

Members of public stand on the shores of Lake Victoria as rescue operations under way on Lake Victoria after a ferry overturned on September 21, 2018 in northern Tanzania. PHOTO | NMG

  • Search: Rescue efforts are led by the Tanzanian Navy assisted by locals and private companies.
    Operations were called off shortly after 10pm Thursday due to poor visibility and resumed in the morning.
    As at Friday afternoon, 126 bodies have been found, Issac Kamwelwe, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, said, adding that the rescue exercise will be concluded later Friday.

Past disasters

— In 1996, in one of the worst maritime disasters, more than 800 people died when MV Bukoba, ferrying passengers and cargo between Bukoba and Mwanza, capsized. The ferry was overcrowded.

— In 2011, more than 200 people lost their lives a ferry overturned in the Indian Ocean in Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous archipelago.

— A year later, 2012, another vessel sank on the same island killing 145 people on board.

--Reporting by Nation Media Group and Agencies

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