NAIROBI, April 29 -- At least 39 bodies were recovered from off the Kenyan coastal resort of Mombasa after an overloaded ferry sank Friday in shark-infested waters.
'We have recovered 39 bodies so far and there are 71 survivors, 44 are in hospital,' a police spokesman said.
Initial reports indicated that the ferry, which had an official capacity of 200, was carrying more than 300 people when it sank in the Indian Ocean, some 100 feet (30 meters) from shore.
The police spokesman said divers and volunteers were conducting an extensive search for survivors, but hundreds of passengers were feared to have drowned.
He could confirm reports that the MV Mtongwe was carrying more than 300 people when it capsized.
The ferry was coming from Mtongwe on the mainland south to Mombasa island, a distance of 3 miles (5 km), when it flipped over. The ferry, operated by the Kenya Ports Authority, is used mainly by local commuters.
The accident is one of the worst maritime accidents in Keny's history. Other recent accidents off the coast of Kenya have involved mainly Somali refugees fleeing civil strife in their country.