Home WORLD Tanzania leader orders arrests as ferry death toll nears 170

Tanzania leader orders arrests as ferry death toll nears 170

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Tanzania leader orders arrests as ferry death toll nears 170

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A Tanzanian official says the death toll from a capsized ferry on Lake Victoria has risen to 167 while wooden coffins arrived at the scene.

The government’s Chief Secretary John Kijazi spoke to reporters after the country’s president ordered the arrests of those allegedly responsible for the disaster.

The badly overloaded ferry capsized in the final stretch before shore on Thursday afternoon as people returning from a busy market day shifted and prepared to disembark.

An aerial image shows the capsized ferry MV Nyerere in Lake Victoria, Tanzania. (AFP/Getty Images)

Families of victims are preparing to claim the bodies of their loved ones as search efforts around the ferry’s exposed underside continue.

No one knows how many people were on board the ferry, which had a capacity of 101. Search efforts continue.

Initial estimates suggested there were more than 300 people on board when the MV Nyerere capsized just a few metres from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake’s biggest island.

State-owned Habari Leo reported on its website on Friday that top officials of the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority would be questioned about the accident.

Preliminary investigations, the paper said, showed the ferry had carried more passengers than its capacity permitted.

Thirty-seven people have been rescued from the lake, said Jonathan Shana, the regional police commander for the port of Mwanza on the south coast of the lake. 

Another Tanzanian official, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella, told reporters that an engineer was found alive near the engine of the capsized vessel.

With files from Reuters