At least 86 dead after Lake Victoria ferry accident; rescue efforts ongoing

ODM leader Raila Odinga on Friday condoled families of the people who perished in the MV Nyerere tragedy in Tanzania./COURTESY

ODM leader Raila Odinga on Friday condoled families of the people who perished in the MV Nyerere tragedy in Tanzania./COURTESY

The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency (TEMESA) confirmed the incident in a statement and said rescue efforts were underway.

The MV Nyerere, named after the former president who led the East African nation to independence, was travelling between the islands of Ukara and Ukerewe when it sank. The large crowd is said to have moved when the ferry was getting ready to dock.

"We are really saddened and urge the government to provide a new ferry because the old one was small and the population is big".

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.

He can not say how many people were on board until the search and rescue operation is over.

Tanzania has a history of maritime disasters for over two decades.

The ferry was said to have been particularly busy because it was market day in Bugorora, on Ukerewe island.

The ageing vessel, whose hull and propellers were all that remained visible above water, was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas and cement, when it capsized.

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Mnyika said overloading was "another failure of the authorities" and criticised "inadequate relief efforts as well as delays" in the rescue operation.

Transport Minister Isack Kamwele gave the new death toll on state television.

Managed to grab almost 40 people. About 100 people were rescued while 32 are said to be in a critical condition.

There was confusion about the number of passengers on board, because the person who dispensed tickets was among the dead, according to Reuters.

Deadly maritime disasters have become all too familiar in Tanzania, and overcrowding is often the cause.

This will be the third major ferry disaster for Tanzania in recent years, after 500 people died on a Lake Victoria ferry in 1996 and almost 200 people died off the coast of Zanzibar in 2012.

The year before, nearly 200 people died in another major incident off the coast of Zanzibar.

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