VIDEO&PHOTOS: Over 100 dead in ferry tragedy

More than 100 bodies have been found so far after a Tanzania ferry sank in Lake Victoria on Thursday, the State radio TBC Taifa said on Friday.

Hundreds more are still feared missing as rescuers searched for survivors from daybreak on the morning after the disaster.

Initial estimates suggested that the Tanzania 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.

The BBC’s Aboubakar Famau in Tanzania says fear has gripped residents of Mwanza region as they await to hear the fate of relatives who travelled on the MV Nyerere on Thursday.

“I received a call telling me that I have lost my aunt, father and my younger brother,” says Editha Josephat Magesa, a local resident.

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

Our reporter says the ferry’s engines were recently replaced after local MP Joseph Mkundi complained about the previous ones.

Passenger figures unclear

Tanzania’s police chief Simon Sirro Mwanza, who has travelled to the area, says the death toll has risen to 100.

So far, 37 people have been rescued and are in critical condition, according to Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella. Local officials had initially reported on Thursday that 100 people had been rescued.

Map showing location of islands

Exact figures, though, are yet to be confirmed – Reuters said the person who dispensed tickets for the journey also died, with the machine recording the data lost.

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

The islands are close to Tanzania’s second-largest city of Mwanza.

Tragic history

Tanzania has seen a number of nautical disasters, with overcrowding often playing a role.

In 2012, at least 145 people died when a packed ferry sank while transporting people to the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean.

The year before, almost 200 people died in another major incident off the coast of Zanzibar. Hundreds survived, some found clinging to mattresses and fridges.

In 1996, more than 800 people died when the MV Bukoba capsized on Lake Victoria. It was one of the the worst ferry disasters of the last century.

A capsized boat in TanzaniaImage copyrightSTEPHEN MSENGI
Image captionScores of people have so far been reported rescued
Rescue efforts at the scene of a capsizing in Lake TanzaniaImage copyrightSTEPHEN MSENGI
Image captionThe vessel was reportedly overcrowded
Crowds watch rescue efforts after a boat capsized in TanzaniaImage copyrightSTEPHEN MSENGI
Image captionLarge crowds watched rescue efforts from the shore

-Agencies

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