The death toll from Tanzania’s ferry disaster hit 136 on Friday as hopes faded for more people being pulled out alive from Lake Victoria.Thirty-seven people were rescued after the MV Nyerere sank on Thursday near Ukerewe island on Africa’s largest lake.
“People are aware that the hopes of finding survivors are almost nil,” Tanzanian state television reported.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame for such incidents.
The number of dead was expected to rise, according to witnesses.
“More than 200 people are feared dead,” based on accounts from fishermen and others nearby, because passengers had been returning from a busy market day, Tanzania Red Cross spokeswoman Godfrida Jola told The Associated Press.”But no one knows” just how many people were on board, she said.
President John Magufuli said he ordered the arrest of “all those involved in the management of the ferry”.
“It appears clear that the ferry was overloaded. The arrests have already begun,” he said in a speech on TBC One public television, also referring to “negligence”.
The ageing ferry’s hull and propellers were all that remained visible after it overturned.
Davita Ngenda, a victim’s relative, had already received bad news. “My son is among the bodies recovered,” she said, weeping.
While the boat had a capacity of 100, it remained unknown exactly how many people were on the vessel.
George Nyamaha, head of Ukerewe district council, said “more than a 100 passengers” were on board when the ferry sank. Local media, quoting witnesses, reported numbers as high as 400 to 500.