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Survivors recount Tanzania ferry tragedy

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By THE CITIZEN
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Survivors of the Tanzanian ferry that capsized on Thursday in Lake Victoria say the person steering the vessel made a sharp turn towards the dock.

Mr Ochori Burana and Mr Ruben Mpande said the man on the wheel had been on his mobile phone and as the vessel was approaching the Ukara Island dock he realised that it was headed in the wrong direction and it could miss the docking area.

“People were telling him to stop his telephone conversation and focus on the wheel. As we approached the Ukara dock we saw that he was going on the left of the dock while the disembarking area is in the right side. He suddenly he made a sharp turn,” Mr Burana said in an interview aired by the state broadcaster, TBC1.

“After the sharp turn the vessel ducked to one side throwing out people and cargo and when it pivoted to the other it went down with everyone else in it. I jumped into the water and swam to the shore,” Mr Mpande said.

MV Nyerere capsized 50 metres from the Ukara Island on Thursday, September 20.

So far 196 bodies have been recovered and 41 people rescued including an engineer, Augustine Charahani, who was found alive inside the capsized vessel on Saturday more than 40 hours after the accident.

Sixty bodies were recovered on Saturday with more than 300 people feared dead as rescue mission continues.

President John Magufuli said Friday that the captain of the ferry was not on board and that the person steering had no formal training.

“We have already arrested the captain and officials in charge of operations of MV Nyerere ferry for further questioning,” President Magufuli said in a televised national address.

Mr Burana said he survived by jumping into the water and grabbing a car tyre that he used to float for some 15 minutes before being rescued by local fishermen.

He said he lost six of his relatives and only three bodies have so far been recovered.

“I am in shock. I am hapless,” Mr Mpande said, adding that he was travelling with 10 of his relatives who are still missing.

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