Tanzania ferry disaster: divers pull survivor from capsized ship

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Engineer found near engine of upturned vessel, which sank on Lake Victoria

A survivor has been rescued by divers from the wreck of an overcrowded Tanzanian ferry two days after it capsized on Lake Victoria, killing at least 166 people.

An engineer was found near the engine of the upturned vessel, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella said. The Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation reported he had shut himself into the engine room. His condition was not immediately clear.

Navy divers resumed the search operation inside the sunken MV Nyerere early on Saturday after hearing sounds that suggested signs of life. They pulled a man out of the overturned ship and he was taken to hospital, a witness said, while bodies continued to float to the surface around the vessel.

Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, has ordered the arrest of the managers of the ferry, which may have been carrying as many as 300 people when it capsized near the dock on the Ukara Island. The precise number was unknown, however, because the ticket-seller had drowned and the machine recording sales had not been found.

During a speech on public television on Friday night, Magufuli referred to negligence and said he had ordered the arrest of all those involved in the management of the ferry. “It appears clear that the ferry was overloaded,” he said, adding that the arrests had already begun.

The president also declared four days of national mourning.

The works, transport and communication minister, Isack Kamwelwe, said the government was sending sophisticated equipment to aid the rescue. “This equipment will increase efficiency in the rescue operation and we will continue with the search until we are satisfied that we have rescued everyone,” he told Reuters. At least 40 people were brought to safety on Thursday as dozens of security forces and volunteers wearing gloves and face masks spent the day hauling bodies into wooden boats.

Tanzanian ferries often carry hundreds of passengers and are overcrowded, and there are shifts in weight as passengers move to disembark. The Nyerere was crowded because it was a market day.

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