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At least 163 dead as ferry sinks off Zanzibar, Tanzania

Reuters/Marton Dunai

At least 163 people have died and over 100 more are still missing after a ferry carrying 600 people capsized off the popular tourist archipelago of Zanzibar.

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Mohammed Aboud, Zanzibar's state minister for emergencies, said 325 people have been rescued so far, at least 40 of those were seriously injured, including some hit by falling debris as the boat rolled onto one side.

Officials said the passengers included families returning home after the holidays to celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Survivors have begun arriving back in Stone Town, the main port and capital of the archipelago, with an emergency first aid centre set up in the port to treat those arriving by rescue speed boat from the capsized ferry.

Some survivors have accused port and ferry officials of overloading the boat.

"This is a national tragedy, so let us join hands together over this," said Ali Mohammed Shin, president of the semi-autonomous archipelago. "The government of Zanzibar will do everything that it can to support the victims of this terrible event."

The MV Spice Islander was travelling between Zanzibar's main island Unguja and Pemba, two of the three islands that make up Zanzibar. It left Unguja around 9pm local time and capsized four hours later.

Ferries have a poor safety record in Tanzania. In May 2009, a ferry capsized leaving six people dead, while several fires on cargo boats have been reported in recent years.

 

 

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