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Scores drowned in Zanzibar ferry sinking

Scores drowned in Zanzibar ferry sinking
Over 100 dead and many still missing as vessel carrying more than 500 passengers capsizes off coast of East Africa.
Source - Al Jazeera
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2011 07:35

More than a hundred people have died after a ferry travelling from Zanzibar to Pemba island off the East African country of Tanzania capsized overnight, a doctor told the Reuters news agency.

"We are still receiving many bodies by truck loads ... The death toll will likely be much higher," Karim Zam of the Mnazi Mmoja hospital in Zanzibar, told Reuters, saying that 107 bodies had been recovered thus far.

Earlier, the government said that about 260 people had been rescued off the capsized ferry - that was carrying 500 passengers - but scores were still unaccounted for.

Zanzibar and Pemba are the two main islands of the Zanzibar archipelago, a popular destination for tourists visiting their pristine Indian Ocean beaches.

"We are fearing the greatest calamity in the history of Zanzibar. This is a disaster," a government official in Zanzibar, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Abdullah Saied, one of those rescued from the ferry, said the MV Spice Islander was heavily overloaded and sank in an area with heavy currents in deep sea between mainland Tanzania and Pemba Island at about 1am local time.

Thousands of residents mobbed the docks of Stone Town on Zanzibar, an island near Pemba, waiting for news, The Associated Press reported.

One man was screaming that he had lost 25 members of his family, including his sisters, his wife and grandsons. He was too upset to give his name.

Many of those present expressed anger that the ship had been allowed to leave port so overloaded and called on government officials to resign.

"The ship's manifest [passenger list] shows that the vessel travelling from Unguja [Zanzibar] to Pemba islands had more than 500 passengers on board," Mussa Alli Mussa, Zanzibar's police commissioner, told Reuters.

Mussa said rescue workers with the aid of some fishing boats in the area were helping to rescue more passengers and recover bodies.

"Because of strong ocean winds, some of the bodies could even be washed up in Tanga [mainland Tanzania]," he said. "The cause of the accident cannot be confirmed at the moment."
Tags: africa, deaths
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