Zanzibar disaster: 80 still missing

2012-07-20 07:40
Tourists are brought ashore wrapped in blankets on Zanzibar island, Tanzania after ferry accident off the coast. (Khalfan Said, AP)

Tourists are brought ashore wrapped in blankets on Zanzibar island, Tanzania after ferry accident off the coast. (Khalfan Said, AP)

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Zanzibar - Tanzanian officials have given up hope of rescuing more than 80 people still missing after a ferry sank off the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar, with the death toll of 62 set to rise.

The vessel, which was officially carrying 291 passengers and crew, including more than 30 children, went down in choppy waters off Zanzibar on Wednesday after leaving Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

"Search operations continue but it is now almost impossible survivors will be found," Zanzibar police spokesperson Mohamed Mhina told reporters, raising the prospect that about 145 may have died.

"The ship has completely sunk. There were 290 people on board," he said

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said in a statement: "this tragedy affects all of us, and the pain and suffering of those affected is the pain and suffering that we feel".

Officials said emergency workers had rescued 146 people and recovered 62 bodies.

Two foreign tourists were initially reported to be among the dead, but hospital administrator Omari Abdallan said so far only one "body of a white person" was in the morgue.

Anxious relatives of those missing were also losing hope of seeing their loved ones again.

"My two wives had gone to Dar es Salaam to visit relatives, but on their return, this is what happened," said 72-year-old Abdullay Yussuf.

"I do not have hope of finding them alive. I only ask Allah to give me their bodies, so I can bury them with dignity."

Read more on:    zanzibar  |  east africa  |  ferry disasters  |  maritime
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