DAR ES SALAAM (Halbeeg News) – At least 86 people are dead after a passenger ferry capsized on Lake Victoria, a Tanzanian official says, with the death toll expected to rise as rescue efforts resumed this morning after daybreak.
Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella said that 42 more deaths had been confirmed on Friday, after 44 on Thursday.
Exact figures, though, are yet to be confirmed – Reuters said the person who dispensed tickets for the journey also died, with the machine recording the data lost.
“About 100 people were rescued while 37 are said to be in a critical condition since Thursday after when the ferry sinked,” John Mongella said.
“I cannot speculate” how many people had been on board, he said. “Right now our focus is on rescue.”
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, another 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.
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.
Tanzania has been hit by several major ferry disasters over the years.
In 2012, 145 people died when a ferry sank off the shore of Tanzania’s Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar.
The year before, almost 200 people died in another major incident off the coast of Zanzibar. Hundreds survived, some found clinging to mattresses and fridges.
In 1996, more than 800 people died when the MV Bukoba capsized on Lake Victoria. It was one of the the worst ferry disasters of the last century.
Halbeeg News and News agencies