September 22, 2018 / 8:22 AM / a month ago

Survivor pulled from capsized Tanzanian ferry as death toll reaches 218

UKARA, Tanzania (Reuters) - Divers rescued a man from the wreck of an overcrowded Tanzanian ferry on Saturday, two days after it capsized on Lake Victoria killing at least 218 people.

Bodies continued to float to the surface around the vessel, which initial estimates suggested had been carrying more than 300 people. State broadcaster TBC said late on Saturday the death toll had reached 218.

Four navy divers resumed their search inside the sunken MV Nyerere early on Saturday after hearing sounds that suggested signs of life.

They pulled one man out of the overturned ship and he was rushed to hospital, a Reuters witness said. His condition was not immediately known.

On Friday, President John Magufuli ordered the arrest of those responsible for the sinking.

Volunteers arrange the coffins containing the dead bodies of passengers retrieved after a ferry MV Nyerere overturned off the shores of Ukara Island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jackson Njehia

Dozens of relatives stood crying by the shoreline as they waited for information on their loved ones. Coffins were lined up nearby awaiting bodies being pulled from the vessel, which lay belly up in the water just metres from the shoreline.

“The ferry overturned very fast and covered us,” survivor Charles Ngarima told Reuters. “I was lucky that I was able to swim under water not knowing where I was swimming to... While trying to swim to safety, I found a number of metal bars that cut my face and the back of my head.”

Another survivor, Jennifer Idhoze, said the ferry had capsized because it was overloaded. “I was able to jump out of the ferry... That is how I survived,” she said.

Works, Transport and Communication Minister Isack Kamwelwe said the government was sending special equipment to aid the rescue effort.

“This equipment will increase efficiency in the rescue operation and we will continue with the search until we are satisfied that we have rescued everyone,” he told Reuters.

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

Slideshow (8 Images)

Additional reporting by Nuzulack Dausen; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Helen Popper and Gareth Jones

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