Disaster Strikes Twice in Tanzania: 38 Confirmed Killed, 100 More Missing in Latest Ferry Sinking

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July 19, 2012

The overturned ferry M/V Skagit

In a country already reeling from a ferry disaster that killed more than 200 people just months ago, 38 people have been confirmed dead and more than 100 remain missing as disaster struck for the second time off the coast of Zanzibar on Wednesday.

As gCaptain reported yesterday, the M/V Skagit capsized on Wednesday with an estimated 290 people on board, including as many as 30 children, when the vessel –quite possibly overcrowded– reportedly encountered some heavy weather while on a typical route from the city of Dar es Salaam on the Tanzania mainland to the island of Zanzibar.

According to the latest reports, 38 people have been confirmed killed and 145 have been rescued however bad weather has hampered rescue and recovery operations of the remaining passengers.

“Search operations continue but it is now almost impossible survivors will be found,” Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina told reporters. “The weather was very bad, there were big waves and strong wind.”

The ferry system between Dar es Salaam and the semi-autonomous Zanzibar Archipelago is a popular route amongst locals and tourists alike.

Last September, more than 200 people died when the severely overcrowded M/V Spice Islander ferry capsized and sank off Zanzibar.  That disaster later sparked a call-to-action from the International Maritime Organization offering assistance in the investigation and help to find ways of preventing such accidents in the future.

As Maritime Matters points out, the M/V Skagit is an ex-Washington State Ferry built in 1989 at Halter Marine in New Orleans, Louisiana. The vessel was reportedly certified by the USCG for up to 250 passengers and crew and was operated by WSF as a 230 maximum passenger only boat.

M/V Skagit approaching Pier 50 in Seattle. Photo: WSDOT via Flickr


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