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At least 79 dead in Lake Victoria ferry disaster: Tanzania state media

The MV Nyerere may have been carrying as many as 200 passengers -- double the ferry's capacity -- when it capsized close to the pier at Ukara Island on Thursday afternoon.

Nairobi: At least 79 people died when a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria, Tanzanian state media said on Friday, citing a regional governor, as the search for survivors continued.

“At the moment the death toll is 79,” said Mwanza governor John Mongella, quoted on state television. The number of those found alive after Thursday’s disaster remains 37, with no more survivors found since rescue operations resumed on Friday morning.

The MV Nyerere may have been carrying as many as 200 passengers — double the ferry’s capacity — when it capsized close to the pier at Ukara Island on Thursday afternoon, according to state media. Tanzania’s Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency, which is responsible for ferry services, said it was unknown how many passengers were aboard the MV Nyerere.

The ageing ferry was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas and cement, when it overturned and then sank around 50 metres (55 yards) from Ukara dock. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame for such disasters.

(With inputs from AFP)

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