DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzanian authorities said on Sunday that the number of people who died on a capsized ferry in Lake Victoria had risen to 224 and the ship’s managers had been arrested for questioning.
The MV Nyerere ferry sank Thursday evening a few meters from the dock on Ukerewe, the largest island in the lake.
Works, Transport and Communications Minister Isack Kamwelwe told state broadcaster TBC that the death toll rose to 224 on Sunday afternoon.
The definitive cause of the capsizing is not yet known, but authorities said preliminary investigation shows the ferry was carrying more people than the law allows.
Boat crashes on Lake Victoria, which are shared by East African countries Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, are often caused by lax safety laws, weak enforcement and ships old and poorly maintained.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said TBC officials involved in running the ferry had been arrested.
“The government will form a special expert commission of inquiry which will investigate the source of the accident and legal action will be taken against all those who were involved in the tragedy,” he said.
A search and rescue team attempted to return the ship, which is prone in the water, to its normal position so that it can be towed to the dock. Army chief General Venance Mabeyo said it could take two to three days.
Reporting by Nuzulack Dausen; Written by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Edmund Blair