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Death toll 225: Tanzania police make arrests over ferry disaster

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said on Sunday police have arrested a number of people who were in relation to a ferry disaster killing over 220 people in Lake Victoria.

"Police have arrested a number of people for questioning following the grisly marine accident as investigations continue," said Majaliwa at the national burial of nine victims who were not identified by relatives. About 216 victims have already been identified by relatives and their bodies collected for burial.

The official made the remarks at Ukara Island where the nine were buried that he will soon announce names of members of an investigation team formed by the government.

On Friday, Tanzanian President Magufuli announced a four-day mourning period for the victims of the ferry accident.

According to sources, the ferry, with a capacity of 101 passengers and 25 tonnes of cargo, capsized at around 1 p.m. local time Thursday.

Magufuli also ordered the arrest of safety inspectors from the country’s transport regulator, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority.

Preliminary investigations showed that the state-owned ferry was overloaded with more than 200 passengers and was being manned by someone who was not the authorized captain of the vessel.

Isack Kamwelwe, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, said 225 bodies were recovered from the fateful ferry between Thursday and Sunday morning.

"We are still searching for more bodies before we halt the recovery operation later today," said Kamwelwe, adding that the recovery operation will be halted after the ferry was pulled out of the waters from one of Africa’s great lakes.

A team of experts from the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) and the police force arrived at Ukara Islet, the scene of the accident, on Saturday night to pull out the ferry using state-of-the-art equipment from TPDF, said Kamwelwe.

One survivor was rescued on Saturday morning from the ferry that capsized in Lake Victoria on Thursday afternoon.

Kamwelwe identified the survivor as Alphonce Charahani, a ferry engineer who was among the passengers, saying he was in critical condition and doctors are fighting to save his life.

The last major ferry accident on Lake Victoria occurred in 1996 in the same region, killing at least 500 people.


Death Toll from ill-fated Tanzanian Ferry Accident rising to 218



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