Man survived a ferry after capsizing in Tanzania describes the harrowing ordeal which has six of his relatives dead in the Easter African nation and 224 people killed. Ochori Burana mentions the ferry being oversized with hundreds of people heading to popular air market on Lake Victoria on Thursday.
Just before the tragedy, the ferry made a sharp turn and tipped on one side that threw people and cargo into the water. Burana jumped just before it went down and clutched to a car in swaying waters. He floated for 15 minutes till fishermen rescued him. Burana said he lost 6 of his relatives who were travelling with him.
“Till this morning we have been able to pull out 223 bodies out of the sea. The exercise is still going on, and at the moment we are trying to fix apparatus to lift the ferry out (onto) land” said Transport Minister Isack Kamwele. Later on Sunday he added that the number had risen to 224.
Ferry’s captain arrested
The captain of this ferry was arrested for overloading and his operations will be detained for questioning, said President John Magufuli.
On Friday, in an address, Magufuli said that the captain of the ferry left the steering into the hands of an untrained person. The initial cause could be overloading of ferry but a total investigation is yet to be done to determine the exact cause.
Being an overcrowded ferry, the total number of people on board cannot be said. Officials said that the capacity of this ferry was 100 people but estimates to be carrying 400 instead.
“He … said he was in trouble”
The ferry was travelling from Bugolora to Ukara Island and it capsized 650 feet from the destination.
“He called me and said he was in trouble,” Musa said in an interview with The Citizen newspaper. “That the boat he was traveling in was about to sink. I tried to ask him what was happening. He said all the passengers on board had moved to one side of the boat. Then the phone went off”, he added.
In 2011, there were about 200 people who died because of an overloaded vessel. The ferry was carrying 1,000 passengers which had the official capacity of 620 instead. It hit strong winds in Zanzibar Islands in the Indian Ocean.