Published: Fri, September 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Ferry in Tanzania's lake Victoria capsizes - government agency

Ferry in Tanzania's lake Victoria capsizes - government agency

Dozens of people have died in Tanzania when a passenger ferry capsized in the south of Lake Victoria, an official said on Thursday.

Thirty-seven people were rescued after the ferry sank in the afternoon, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella told The Associated Press.

He can not say how many people were on board until the search and rescue operation is over. "It is feared that a significant number have lost their lives", said George Nyamaha, head of Ukerewe district council.

The ferry was traveling between Ukara and Bugolora and capsized near the area of Mwanza, the agency said.

Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa, which straddles the borders of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

The boat had a capacity of 620 passengers but was carrying more than 1,000 people.

A spokeswoman for Tanzania's national ferry services operator TEMESA said mechanical issues were not to blame and the firm had carried out maintenance on the ferry in recent months, overhauling two engines.

Lake Victoria spans more than 26,000 square miles and is the third largest lake in the world.

Ferries in Tanzania are often overcrowded, and the lack of an accurate passenger manifest is complicating rescue operations.

President John Magufuli has sent his condolences to victims of a ferry accident that has killed at least 42 people according to a statement from State House.

In 1996 around 900 people died when the MV Bukoba capsized on the lake.

And in 2011 almost 200 people were killed when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

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