At least 200 passengers of a ferry drowned when the boat sank on Thursday in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria, Reuters reported. Exact figures, though, are yet to be confirmed while the machine recording the data lost.
Tanzania’s government officials suggest the final death toll could be more than 200 people, initial estimates showed that the vessel was carrying more than 300 passengers. The operator had carried out maintenance on the ferry in recent months, overhauling two engines, said Temesa spokeswoman Theresia Mwami said.
According to John Mongella, Mwanza regional commissioner, 37 people were rescued after the MV Nyerere ferry sank. Ukerewe district commissioner, Col Lucas Magembe, told Reuters that the rescue mission to find survivors from the boat had been halted until dawn.
Ferry boat 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.
George Nyamaha, the head of Ukerewe district council, of which the island is a part, said:
“There were more than a hundred passengers on board when the ferry sank. It is feared that a significant number have lost their lives.”
The ferry was also carrying cargo when it capsized close to the dock. The cause of the incident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently found to be the cause.
Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where passenger boats are often said to be old and in poor condition.
In 1996, more than 800 people died when the passenger and cargo ferry MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria. Six years ago, 144 people died or disappeared when an overloaded ferry sank off the semi-autonomous Tanzanian island of Zanzibar.