DAR ES SALAAM, Sept 21 (Reuters) - At least 44 people were confirmed dead and rescuers resumed searching at the crack of dawn on Friday for hundreds more still missing, a day after a ferry sank in Lake Victoria, Tanzanian police said.
Initial estimates suggested that the MV Nyerere was carrying more than 300 people when it went down on Thursday afternoon, just a few metres from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake’s biggest island, which is part of Tanzania.
Thirty-seven people had been rescued from the sea, while the confirmed death toll rose to 44 from 42, Jonathan Shana, the regional police commander for Mwanza, a port on the southern shore of the lake, told Reuters by phone on Friday.
Shana said more rescuers had joined the operation when it resumed at daylight on Friday. He did not give exact numbers.
The precise number of those aboard the ferry when it capsized was hard to establish since crew and equipment had been lost, officials said on Thursday.
Tanzania has been hit by several major ferry disasters over the years. At least 500 people were killed when a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria in 1996. In 2012, 145 people died when a ferry sank off the shore of Tanzania’s Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar. (Reporting by Nuzulack Dausen Writing by Duncan Miriri Editing by Peter Graff)