Ferry with 500 plus passengers sinks off Tanzania

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2011 3:28 AM

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - A ferry carrying more than 500 passengers from Zanzibar to Pemba island off the east African country of Tanzania has capsized and scores of people are missing, police said on Saturday.

Zanzibar, also known as Unguja, and Pemba are the two main islands of the Zanzibar archipelago, a popular destination for tourists visiting their pristine white Indian Ocean beaches.

"The ship's manifest shows that the vessel traveling from Unguja to Pemba islands had more than 500 passengers on board," Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Alli Mussa told Reuters.

"Some 260 passengers have so far been rescued ... we have recovered several bodies but I can't give you the exact death toll at the moment because the situation is very volatile," he said.

Pemba is about 40 km (25 miles) from Zanzibar.

Mussa said rescue workers with the aid of some fishing boats in the area were helping to rescue more passengers and recover bodies.

"Because of strong ocean winds, some of the bodies could even be washed up in Tanga (mainland Tanzania)," he said. "The cause of the accident cannot be confirmed at the moment."

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by David Clarke)