Death toll of Tanzania’s ferry accident rises to 209

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Photo taken on Sept. 22 shows the scene of rescue. Tanzanian authorities said on Saturday the death toll in the ferry that capsised in Lake Victoria on Thursday rose to 209 as more bodies were expected to be pulled off one of Africa’s great lakes. Xinhua

DAR ES SALAAM (Xinhua) – The death toll in the ferry that capsised in Lake Victoria on Thursday rose to 209 as more bodies were expected to be pulled off one of Africa’s great lakes.

Isack Kamwelwe, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, said more bodies could be recovered as rescue and recovery operations continued.

“Relatives have started identifying bodies of their loved ones,” Mr Kamwelwe told a news conference at Ukara Islet, the scene of the grisly marine accident.

He said a ship carrying equipment to be used in pulling the ferry out of the lake was on its way from Mwanza.

“We are expecting the vessel anytime and work to pull out the ferry will start right away,” said the minister.

Earlier in the day, Mr Kamwelwe, said one survivor was rescued on Saturday from the ferry that capsised in Lake Victoria on Thursday afternoon.

He identified the survivor as Alphonce Charahani, a ferry engineer who was among the passengers.

“The survivor is in critical condition and doctors are fighting to save his life,” Mr Kamwelwe told Xinhua on phone.

On Friday, Tanzanian President Magufuli announced a four-day mourning period for the victims of the ferry accident.

According to sources, the ferry MV Nyerere, with a capacity of 101 passengers and 25 tonnes of cargo, capsised at around 1 pm local time Thursday.

Mr Magufuli also ordered the arrest of safety inspectors from the country’s transport regulator, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority.

Preliminary investigations showed that the state-owned ferry was overloaded and was being manned by someone who was not the authorised captain of the vessel.

Mr Magufuli directed Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and Mr Kamwelwe to launch full investigations into the sinking of the ferry.

The last major ferry accident on Lake Victoria occurred in 1996 in the same region, killing at least 500 people.

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