BREAKING NEWS: Zanzibar, Tanzania: 370 Missing As Ferry Carrying Over 500 Sinks: UPDATED

10 Sep

A Zanzibar fishing vessel carries the survivors of the ferry crash ashore

ZANZIBAR (Reuters) – A ferry carrying more than 500 passengers from Zanzibar to Pemba island off the east African country of Tanzania has capsized and scores of people are missing, police said on Saturday.

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Spice Islander I was a 836 GRT Ro-Ro ferry which was built in Greece in 1967 as Marianna. She was renamed Apostolos P following a sale in 1988. She was sold to a Honduran
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Spice_Islander_​I – Cached
File:US Navy 070926-N-0000X-003 Guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) tows Tanzanian-flagged passenger ferry Spice Island while in international waters off the coast of Somalia.jpg
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Pemba Island Tanzania – News Images

Deck hands aboard the tourist diving vessel Kisi throw bottles of water to the parched survivors of the Zanzibar ferry that sunk off the coast of Pemba overnight

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

The MV Spice Islander left Unguja at 1900 GMT and capsized at 2300GMT

“The ship’s manifest shows that the vessel travelling from Unguja to Pemba islands had more than 500 passengers on board,” Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Alli Mussa told Reuters.

“Some 260 passengers have so far been rescued … we have recovered several bodies but I can’t give you the exact death toll at the moment because the situation is very volatile,” he said.

Pemba is about 40 km (25 miles) from Zanzibar. Passengers who regularly take ferries between the two islands said the vessels are in a poor state of repair and are often overcrowded and loaded with cargo.

“They normally pack us in like sardines in a can. And for that I really fear this could be a very big disaster,” said resident Mwnakhamis Juma.

The government in Zanzibar said last month it planned to invest in bigger, more reliable vessels to ferry passengers between the two islands.

“We are fearing the greatest calamity in the history of Zanzibar. This is a disaster,” said a government official, who declined to be named.

Two small overloaded boats capsized and were swept away in high seas off Tanzania’s coast in January this year and in May 2009, a vessel just off Zanzibar sank with dozens aboard, killing six.

Mussa said rescue workers with the aid of some fishing boats in the area were helping to rescue more passengers and recover bodies to bring them to Zanzibar’s main town for post-mortems and identification.

“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.”

A parent in Mkoani on Pemba island was already mourning his three children, who were aboard the vessel capsized MV Spice.

“I had two sons and a daughter coming back to Pemba from a school holiday break … and I am fearing for the worse,” said Juma Bakar.

(Additional reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala in Dar es Salaam; Editing by David Clarke and Matthew Jones)

NEWS UPDATE:

STONE TOWN, Tanzania (AP) — An overcrowded ship sank in deep sea off mainland Tanzania on Saturday with about 600 people onboard, and about 370 people are believed missing or dead.

The ferry, M.V. Spice Islanders, was heavily overloaded and some potential passengers had refused to board when it was leaving the mainland port of Dar es Salaam, said survivor Abdullah Saied. It sank in an area with heavy currents in deep sea between mainland Tanzania and Pemba Island at about 1 a.m. Saturday.

About 230 people had been rescued and 40 bodies had been recovered, said Mohamed Aboud, the minister for the vice president’s office.

Thousands of residents mobbed the docks of Stone Town on Zanzibar, an island near Pemba, waiting for news. 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 the crowd were crying or screaming.

Seven bodies have washed up so far, said witness Abdirizak Juma.

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 green and hilly island of Pemba is often described as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE:

Zanzibaris flock to the shore near the tourist resort of Nungwi to await for news and survivors after a ferry sunk off the coast of the island overnight

At least 43 people died when a ferry capsized off Zanzibar, but 259 have people have so far been rescued, a minister in the semi-autonomous archipelago said Saturday.

“So far we have recovered 43 people who died, but we have rescued 259 survivors,” said Mohammed Aboud, Zanzibar’s state minister for emergencies, adding that 40 of those rescued were seriously injured.

“We have asked for emergency assistance from Dar es Salaam, including divers, to help in the rescue efforts,” Aboud told AFP.

The MV Spice Islander which was travelling between Zanzibar’s main island Unguja and Pemba, two of the three islands that make up Zanzibar, had left Unguja around 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) and capsized four hours later.

The exact number of passengers on this type of ferry is often difficult to establish as no reliable passenger lists are kept.

No foreigners have so far been reported amongst either the dead or rescued, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

NEWS UPDATE:

A ferry carrying more than 600 passengers from Zanzibar to Pemba island off the east African coast has capsized.

Local vessels are still searching for survivors

Local vessels are still searching for survivors

At least 163 people have died after a ferry capsized off the popular east African tourist destination of Zanzibar, but over 100 people are still missing.

“We have recovered 163 people who have died and we have rescued 325 survivors,” said Mohammed Aboud, Zanzibar’s state minister for emergencies, dramatically updating an earlier death toll of 53.

At least 40 of those rescued were seriously injured, including some hit by falling debris as the boat rolled onto one side, he said, adding that the death toll could still rise higher.

Officials said that around 600 people were believed to have been on the ferry, including families returning home after the holidays to celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Survivors have begun arriving back in Zanzibar with an emergency first aid centre set up in the port to treat those arriving by rescue speed boat from the capsized ferry.

“It was terrifying, people were screaming and shouting in the dark,” said Aisha Mohammed, aged seven.

“I can’t find my mummy, I lost her when we were all in the water,” she added, after being picked up by a rescue boat.

Other survivors have angrily accused port and ferry officials of overloading the boat.

“We were shouting at the captain and at the people in the port even before we left that the boat was too full – it was packed with people and with cargo,” said Zaid Amour, a 50-year-old survivor.

“This was not an accident but is the fault of those who did not stop the boat from leaving when it was clear to passengers it was not safe.”

The government has pledged to do all it could to help.

“This is a national tragedy, so let us join hands together over this,” said president Ali Mohammed Shin.

“The government of Zanzibar will do everything that it can to support the victims of this terrible event.”

The exact number of passengers on this type of ferry is often difficult to establish as no reliable passenger lists are kept.

No foreigners have so far been reported amongst either the dead or rescued.

NEWS UPDATE:

Rescuers carry the bodies of victims from a ferry tragedy near Zanzibar Island at …

STONE TOWN, Zanzibar (Reuters) – At least 192 people drowned when a ferry carrying passengers from Zanzibar to Pemba off the east African coast capsized overnight, Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina told Reuters on Saturday.

“There is a possibility that more bodies still remain at sea. Rescue workers are still searching for survivors and retrieving bodies,” Mhina said, adding that 606 passengers had been rescued so far.

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by David Clarke/Ruth Pitchford

Keywords:  zanzibar, pemba, tanzania

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