More than 100 dead after ferry capsizes on Tanzania’s Lake Victoria

Screengrab FRANCE 24.

At least 136 bodies were retrieved Friday, a day after a ferry capsized near Lake Victoria’s Tanzanian shore, according to local officials.


The MV Nyerere ferry sank with an unknown number of passengers aboard on Thursday afternoon near Ukara, the lake’s biggest island, which is part of Tanzania.

Initial estimates indicated that the MV Nyerere was carrying more than 300 people onboard. It went down just a few metres from the dock in Ukerewe district, according to national ferry services operator TEMESA.

But it was hard to establish the precise number of passengers on board since the person dispensing tickets had also drowned with the machine recording the data lost.

"There were more than a hundred passengers on board when the ferry sank, it is feared that a significant number have lost their lives," said George Nyamaha, the head of Ukerewe district council.

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

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Reporting for FRANCE 24 from Tanzania, Emmanuel Makundi noted that while the cause of the accident was not immediately clear, he had interviewed a witness who was on the lake shore at the time of the accident: “He said that as the ferry was approaching the shore, many people tried to reach the gate and that led a car that was onboard the ferry to tipple over. That led the ferry to list on one side, causing the accident.”

In 1996, a ferry disaster on Lake Victoria in the same region killed at least 500 people.

In 2012, at least 145 people died in a ferry disaster in Tanzania's semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean, on a vessel that was overcrowded.


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