At least 180 die as ferry capsizes off Zanzibar

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ZANZIBAR (BNO NEWS) — A ferry believed to be carrying more than 1,000 people capsized between two islands in the Zanzibar archipelago, off Tanzania, on early Saturday morning, officials and residents said. At least 180 bodies have been recovered.

The accident happened at around 2 a.m. local time when the MV Spice Islander I capsized and sank during a trip from Unguja Island to Pemba Island, the two main islands of the Zanzibar archipelago. Reports said the ferry may have suffered an engine failure before it capsized.


Officials of the semi-autonomous republic said 579 survivors had been rescued as of late Saturday evening, including at least 60 who are in a critical condition and 100 others who sustained less serious injuries. In addition to the survivors, at least 180 bodies have been recovered.

It remains unclear how many people were on board the ferry, which was only designed to carry around 200 people at most. The figures released by the government so far add up to 759, but it is believed more than 1,000 people were on board the vessel when it capsized.

Rescue operations were suspended on late Saturday evening but resumed at first light on Sunday.

The ferry sinking is Zanzibar’s deadliest ever disaster. Tanzania’s worst maritime disaster occurred in May 1996 when the MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria, killing at least 800 and as many as 1,000 people.

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