Zanzibar ferry Disaster: Scores Drowned

Nearly 200 people have died after a ferry travelling from Zanzibar to Pemba island off the East African country of Tanzania capsized overnight, police said. A government spokesman said 620 survivors had been rescued. Three days of mourning have been declared.

The boat, overloaded with cargo and carrying more passengers than registered for the trip, hit strong winds and waves and capsized in the Indian Ocean, the officials said. The latest casualty report from authorities in Stone Town, Zanzibar's capital and main port, says there are 579 known survivors of the ferry disaster, some of whom are badly injured.

The ferry, M.V. Spice Islanders, was heavily overloaded and some potential passengers had refused to board when it was leaving the mainland port of Dar es Salaam for an island north of the tourist destination of Zanzibar, said survivor Abdullah Saied.

The Zanzibar government has set up a rescue centre and called upon all reserves to join the rescue effort. It has also called for support from other countries, such as South Africa and Kenya. Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina told the Reuters news agency that 192 bodies had been recovered and 606 passengers rescued from the Indian Ocean so far.

"There is a possibility that more bodies still remain at sea. Rescue workers are still searching for survivors and
retrieving bodies," he said.

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