Ferry sinks in Tanzania's Lake Victoria, 44 confirmed dead

Ferry sinks in Tanzania's Lake Victoria, 44 confirmed dead

The MV Nyerere capsized at around 2pm local time on its way to Ukora Island, two hours after departing from Bugorora, Ukerewe Island, Mwanza Regional Police Commander, Mr Jonathan Shana said.

Almost 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

Emergency teams were dispatched to the scene but have halted rescue operations until dawn on Friday, Ukerewe District Commissioner Colonel Lucas Magembe told Reuters.

He said 42 people were confirmed dead so far.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently found to blame.

Tanzania's Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency (TEMESA), which operates ferry services, said the boat, known as MV Nyerere, sank on Thursday afternoon in Ukurewe district Mwanza region.

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A local official cited by the BBC said the vessel was overloaded with more than 400 people, with other reports stating that some 300 passengers were on board.

Temesa Spokesperson Ms Theresia Mwami said the exact number of casualties had not yet been established. He feared "a significant number have lost their lives".

Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake, which is surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where passenger boats are often said to be old and in poor condition.

And in 2011 almost 200 people were killed when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

In 1996, in one of the worst maritime disasters, more than 800 people died when MV Bukoba, ferrying passengers and cargo between Bukoba and Mwanza, capsized.

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