'Desperate' search for survivors after at least 44 die in ferry accident in Tanzania

2018-09-21 09:19


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

At least 44 people died and scores were feared missing after a ferry capsized in Victoria, Africa's largest lake, with a desperate search for survivors set to resume in Tanzania on Friday.

There were "more than a hundred passengers" on board the vessel when it sank on Thursday afternoon near Ukara Island in the southeast of the vast lake, which also extends into Uganda and Kenya, a local official said.

"It is feared that a significant number have lost their lives," said George Nyamaha, the head of Ukerewe district council of which the island is a part.

Regional governor John Mongella said late on Thursday the toll had reached 44 while 37 others had been rescued, though some of the survivors were in "a very bad condition".

He added that rescue operations had been suspended and would continue on Friday morning.

A statement from Tanzania's Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency said it was unknown how many passengers were aboard the MV Nyerere.

The ferry was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize and cement, when it overturned close to the dock.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame for such incidents.

President John Magufuli's spokesman Gerson Msigwa also said on state television TBC 1 that the death toll stood at more than 40.

With a surface area of 70 000 square kilometres, oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland.

Capsizes are not uncommon in the massive lake, and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many people in the region cannot swim.

The deadliest such accident in recent decades was in May 1996, when around 800 people died after their ferry sank on its way to Mwanza in Tanzania.

Waters in the lake can be rough and boats are frequently poorly maintained, while ferry operators often fail to record the number of passengers on board.

Around 20 people were killed in December 2016 when their boat overturned in Lake Victoria as it was carrying passengers to Uganda's mainland for Christmas holidays.

And in March 2012, only two survivors were found after a boat believed to be carrying around 60 people capsized on the lake in Uganda.

Lake Victoria is the source of the White Nile, one of the main two tributaries of the Nile, which stretches north over nearly 6,700 kilometres into Sudan and Egypt.

Read more on:    tanzania  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.