Tanzania ferry accident: Hundreds feared dead as boat capsizes at Lake Victoria

Tanzania ferry accident: Hundreds feared dead as boat capsizes at Lake Victoria

John Mongella, the commissioner of Mwanza, said 37 people in total have been rescued.

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

"It is feared that a significant number have lost their lives", said George Nyamaha, the head of Ukerewe district council of which the island is a part.

He added that rescue operations had been suspended and would continue on Friday morning.

The ferry had been travelling between the islands of Ukara and Bugolora and capsized near the area of Mwanza, it said.

Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa, which straddles the borders of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

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However Ukerewe District Commissioner Colonel Lucas Magembe said the final death toll could be more than 200, and local officials believed there could have been 300 aboard.

- There was no incident reported to the operator, Tanzania's Electrical and Mechanical Services Agency (Temesa), in the course of journey, officials say.

MV Nyerere capsizes in Lake Victoria on September 20, 2018.

Waters in the lake can be rough and boats are frequently poorly maintained, while ferry operators often fail to record the number of passengers on board.

- Besides people, the ferry was spoilt for choice on which cargo to carry and, like passengers, it ended up ferrying more than its capacity.

In 2012, 145 people died in a ferry disaster in Tanzania's semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, in the Indian Ocean, on a vessel that was overcrowded.

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