Tanzania president orders arrest of ferry operator after tragedy

21 September 2018 - 19:47 By AFP and Reuters
Tanzania’s John Magufuli has called for those responsible for the capsized boat to be arrested
Tanzania’s John Magufuli has called for those responsible for the capsized boat to be arrested
Image: Reuters/Sadi Said Via The Conversation

Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday said he had ordered the arrest of "all those involved in the management of the ferry" which sank on Lake Victoria, claiming 131 lives.

"It appears clear that the ferry was overloaded," he said in a speech on TBC One public television, also referring to "negligence". "The arrests have already begun."

At least 136 bodies have been retrieved after a ferry sank on Lake Victoria, Tanzania’s top police official Simon Sirro said on Friday, and scores more were still feared missing as rescuers searched for survivors on the morning after the disaster.

The ferry MV Nyerere capsized on Thursday afternoon just a few metres from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake’s biggest island, which is part of Tanzania.

Initial estimates suggested that the ferry was carrying more than 300 people.

Thirty-seven people had been rescued from the sea, Jonathan Shana, the regional police commander for the port of Mwanza on the south coast of the lake told Reuters by phone on Friday.

Shana said more rescuers had joined the operation when it resumed at daylight on Friday. He did not give exact numbers.

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 been hit by several major ferry disasters over the years. At least 500 people were killed when a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria in 1996. In 2012, 145 people died when a ferry sank off the shore of Tanzania’s Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar.

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