Over 130 dead in Tanzania ferry disaster, many missing

The MV Nyerere may have been carrying double its passenger capacity when it capsized state media reportedMore

The ferry was traveling from Bugolora to Ukara Island when it capsized 200 meters (about 650 feet) from its destination.

Witnesses told AFP the ferry sank when passengers rushed to one side to disembark as it approached the dock.

One woman told reporters that she had not heard from her father and younger brother.

In a speech broadcast on TBC 1, Magufuli said "it appears clear that the ferry was overloaded", adding that the government would cover the funeral expenses of the victims.

Local media has reported that the ferry's capacity was 100 people. The ferry would cross the islands of Ukwerewe and Ukara several times a day.

The boat was only 50 meters (164 feet) from a dock when it capsized, Tanzania's The Citizen newspaper reports. Authorities have confirmed that they will conduct a full investigation once the search operation is over.

Locals joined with emergency teams in rescue efforts yesterday afternoon.

Scare on board Jet Airways flight due to cabin pressure loss
The flight turned back "due to loss in cabin pressure ", according to a statement from the Indian worldwide airline. The Boeing 9W 697 had to be manoeuvred back to Mumbai as passengers on board fell sick.

"We pray to God to give us hope that there has not been a high death toll".

At least 40 people were brought to safety on Thursday, some in "a very bad condition", said John Mongella, the commissioner for the Mwanza region in northern Tanzania.

"The thoughts of South Africans were with the sisterly people of Tanzania, in particular the families of the deceased", said the Department of International Relations in a statement on Friday.

The precise number of those aboard the ferry when it capsized was hard to establish since crew and equipment had been lost, officials said on Thursday.

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

The country has been faced with similar tragedies in the past, with at least 145 people dying in a ferry disaster in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean in 2012. Hundreds survived, some found clinging to mattresses and fridges. Officials said more than 130 people were killed when the overcrowded boat capsized.

The disaster underlines the issue of risky overcrowding on ferries in the region.

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