Death toll in Tanzania ferry tragedy hits 218, search on

Relatives look at the coffins containing the dead bodies of passengers retrieved after a ferry MV Nyerere overturned off the shores of Ukara Island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania September 22, 2018. /REUTERS
Relatives look at the coffins containing the dead bodies of passengers retrieved after a ferry MV Nyerere overturned off the shores of Ukara Island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania September 22, 2018. /REUTERS

The death toll in the Tanzania's ferry tragedy in Lake Victoria has hit 218, State broadcaster TBC said late on Saturday.

Bodies continued to float to the surface around the vessel, which initial estimates suggested had been carrying more than 300 people.

Dozens of relatives stood crying by the shoreline as they waited for information on their loved ones.

Coffins were lined up nearby awaiting bodies being pulled from the vessel, which lay belly up in the water just metres from the shoreline.

"The ferry overturned very fast and covered us," survivor Charles Ngarima told Reuters.

"I was lucky that I was able to swim under water not knowing where I was swimming to... While trying to swim to safety, I found a number of metal bars that cut my face and the back of my head."

Another survivor, Jennifer Idhoze, said the ferry had capsized because it was overloaded. "I was able to jump out of the ferry... That is how I survived," she said.

Works, Transport and Communication Minister Isack Kamwelwe said the government was sending special equipment to aid the rescue effort.

"This equipment will increase efficiency in the rescue operation and we will continue with the search until we are satisfied that we have rescued everyone," he told Reuters.

The ferry sank on Thursday evening just a few metres from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake's biggest island.

On Friday, President John Magufuli ordered the arrest of those responsible for the sinking. The government has also pledged to cater for the victims' funeral expenses.

At least .

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