7 January 2013

Tanzania: Nine Dead, 12 Missing After Boat Capsizes in Lake Tanganyika

Nine people died and 12 are missing after a boat capsized at dawn Friday (January 4th) in Lake Tanganyika in the Rukwa region of western Tanzania, authorities said.

The boat capsized because of strong winds, Kigoma Regional Police Commander Fraiser Kashai told Sabahi. It had been carrying 85 passengers, as well as tonnes of small fishes, groceries and other commercial goods.

Kashai said the boat, which originated at Kirando port and was headed for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, capsized before reaching Burundi. He said the hope of rescuing passengers alive is fading as time passes.

Police spokesman Advera Senso told AFP by telephone that 60 people were rescued.

Anthony Kayanda, a journalist based in Kigoma, said the death toll may be higher, as the boat was possibly carrying undocumented passengers.

"Survivors are saying the number of people in the boat was more than [85 passengers]," he said. "They say no records were taken at the port of boarding. While the capacity of the boat is only 70 passengers, normally it carries up to 120 passengers."

Kayanda said information about the accident was delayed because there are no mobile phone networks available in the area. Police are collaborating with citizens to rescue passengers, he said.

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