Death toll rises after ferry sinks on Tanzania lake

By Sommer Brokaw
Death toll rises after ferry sinks on Tanzania lake
Authorities said more than 200 people may have drowned after a ferry sank on Lake Victoria in Tanzania Thursday. Photo courtesy TEMESA.

Sept. 21 (UPI) -- At least 126 people have died and many more are feared dead in Tanzania after a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria, officials said Friday.

Transport Minister Isack Kamwe said 40 survivors were rescued Friday and 40 others were saved Thursday.


Rescuers are still searching for hundreds more who may have been aboard the ship, which sunk Thursday afternoon in Lake Victoria.

"It's been a bit difficult because of the fact that the ferry overturned with people and luggage," Kamwele said. "We have to remove the luggage first to get to the bodies."

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The ferry had a capacity of 100 people and about 25 tons of cargo, but officials said the vessel was carrying more than 400 when it capsized Thursday.

The death toll has steadily climbed and authorities said the figure could surpass 200. Officials said dozens were rescued and some are in critical condition.

The MV Nyerere ferry sank near Ukara Island two hours into its trip, Mwanza Regional Police Commander Jonathan Shana said.

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The islands are close to Mwanza, Tanzania's second-largest city.


Recovery efforts resumed Friday after being halted overnight. The ferry is believed to have tipped over when crowds moved to one side as it docked.

"I received a call telling me that I have lost my aunt, father and my younger brother," Editha Josephat Magesa said.

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"We are really saddened and urge the government to provide a new ferry because the old one was small and the population is big."

The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency, which operates ferry services, said the MV Nyerere did not have any mechanical problems with maintenance completed in recent months.

The ferry was purchased in 2004 and renovated in July.

Tanzania has seen a number of other ship disasters where overcrowding played a role.

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