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Overloading behind ferry disaster off Zanzibar

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Overloading behind ferry disaster off Zanzibar
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The funerals have begun for victims of a ferry disaster off the coast of Tanzania.

The official death toll from the tragedy now stands at 197. Some 619 people survived, rescued by passing boats.

Officials say it is almost certain that overloading was to blame, estimating the vessel was carrying at least 200 people more than its licence permitted.

One mourner said: “I think the blame lies with the operators of the vessel. These things have tonnage limits. We know the vessel was overloaded from Tanzania to Zanzibar. The operators must explain why they exceeded the cargo limit of the vessel.”

The ferry began its voyage in Dar-es-Salaam, then made its way to Zanzibar. It later capsized while attempting to reach the smaller island of Pemba.

Authorities are vowing severe punishment for those responsible for overloading the ship.