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Tanzania ferry death toll rises to 224, ship's managers detained

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By Reuters
Tanzania ferry death toll rises to 224, ship's managers detained
Relatives mourn as they attend the burial of dead passengers retrieved after the MV Nyerere ferry overturned off the shores of Ukara Island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania September 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer   -   Copyright  STRINGER(Reuters)

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzanian authorities said on Sunday the number of people who died in a ferry that capsized in Lake Victoria had risen to 224 and the vessel’s managers had been detained for questioning.

The ferry, MV Nyerere, sank on Thursday evening just a few metres from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake’s biggest island.

Works, Transport and Communication Minister Isack Kamwelwe told state broadcaster TBC the death toll had risen to 224 as of Sunday afternoon.

The definitive cause of the capsizing is not yet known but officials have said preliminary investigation shows the ferry was carrying more people than legally permitted.

Boat accidents on Lake Victoria, which is shared by the East African countries of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, are common often caused by lax safety laws, weak enforcement and old and poorly maintained vessels.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told TBC officials involved in managing the ferry had been detained.

“The government will form a special investigation commission of experts which will investigate the source of the accident and legal measures will be taken against all who were involved in causing the tragedy,” he said.

A search and rescue team has been attempting to flip the ship, which is belly up in the waters, back to its normal position so it can be towed to the dock. General Venance Mabeyo, the head of the military, said this could take two to three days.

(Reporting by Nuzulack Dausen; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Edmund Blair)