THE Worldwide President of the Mothers’ Union (MU), Lynne Tembey, who was in Tanzania for an MU conference, has spoken about the ferry that sank on Lake Victoria, on Thursday of last week. The latest death count is 227.
The MV Nyerere sank close to the dock on the island of Ukara, on its way from Ukerewe. It is believed that there were 350 people on board the vessel, which had a capacity of 100. Forty survivors were picked up.
“I was terribly moved by [the disaster],” she said, “and felt privileged and deeply humbled to be with fellow members as we prayed together for those who were affected, those who lost their lives, those who lost loved ones, those who were injured, those who might find it difficult to come to terms with what has happened, and those who will minister to all.
“Lake Victoria has a great many boats and ferries on it. This disaster, understandably, has affected people badly. I continue, as I know many will continue, to pray for the people who will support all those affected.”
The Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, told the state broadcaster TBC that the owners of the ferry had been arrested for alleged negligence. “The government will form a special investigation commission of experts which will investigate the source of the accident,” he said, “and legal measures will be taken against all who were involved in causing the tragedy.”
On Saturday, a survivor trapped in an air pocket on the capsized ferry was rescued by divers, almost two days after the disaster. Alphonce Charahani, the ferry’s engineer, had locked himself in the engine room minutes before the ferry capsized. The head of the rescue team said: “The first thing we did afterwards was to give him a cup of tea, because he was starving.”
The President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, said in a television address on Friday that the ferry appeared to have been overcrowded, and announced four days of national mourning.
Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya border Lake Victoria, which has been the site of ferry disasters previously. In 1996, almost 900 people drowned when a ferry sank on its way to Mwanza, Tanzania.
Mr Majaliwa was present at mass burials of the victims in Ukerewe, on Sunday. Many bodies are still unclaimed.