Vice President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal (3rd-L) participates in special prayers for people who died in the tragic ferry boat accident last week. The event was held at Mwembe Shauri Mosque in Zanzibar yesterday. Other dignitaries who attended the prayers are Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, Zanzibar Second Vice President Seif Ali Idd, Zanzibar retired President Amani Abeid Karume and Speaker of House of Representatives Pandu Ameir Kificho. (Photo: VPO)
Eight more bodies of people who drowned in the last Wednesday Zanzibar passenger ferry tragedy were found floating on the Indian Ocean yesterday a day after the government halted recovery operations.
The recovery of the eight makes the total number of passngers who were killed in the sunken boat, MV Skagit, accident 76.
According to investigation conducted by The Guardian in Zanzibar the bodies were found by fishermen while in bad state off Chumbe Island, six miles from Malindi Port.
Zanzibar Infrastructure and Communication deputy minister Issa Haji Gavu confirming the recovery of the eight bodies said they had already been buried at Kama graveyard in the Isles.
He said after the government received reports that there were bodies floating in the Indian Ocean divers lead by the police force sailed to the scene where they recovered them.
He however said that the rescuing brigade halted the operational exercise on Sunday before the reports on the floating bodies were made available.
Gavu called upon Zanzibaris to continue giving reports in case they find bodies floating on the sea as they go for their chores.
“The recovery operations were halted but following these reports of more bodies being found floating in the Ocean, the government will rework on its decision,” he said.
He however said that the government will issue its stance on the search of the sunken boat after meeting and discussing issues which have been happening, including the floating bodies that have been found.
A total of 69 people are still missing, 76 bodies have been recovered, while 146 people were rescued out of 290 passengers and crew who were on board MV Skagit before it sank last Wednesday.
Speaking to The Guardian some divers said the search for the sunken boat failed due to lack of modern gear and equipment.
Diver Ali Ramadhan said Zanzibar lacks modern equipment capable of locating the sunken ferry. He said the equipment helps the divers to detect iron or aluminum elements by following a special alarm that directs the divers.
He named the equipment as “Flash Diver Founder’ which he said non of the East African countries possess, save South Africa.
Meanwhile, Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, yesterday joined other national leaders in a prayer for those who lost their lives in the tragedy at Mushawar Mosque at Mwembeshauri in the Isles.
The prayers were attended by various political and religious leaders, including Vice President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Isles Second Zanzibar Vice President Seif Ali Idd, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Pandu Ameir Kificho.
On July 19, Zanzibar bound MV Skagit from Dar es Salaam port capsized at Chumbe Island near Unguja Island.
According to the Surface and Marine Transport Authority (Sumatra) manifest, when the boat left Dar es Salaam port had 290 passngers on board of whom 250 were passengers, 31 children and nine members of the crew.
Hopes of finding more people alive were ruled out on Friday after the divers failed for a second day to locate the ill-fated ferry.
After facing rough seas accompanied with strong winds on Friday, the divers failed to locate the ferry, saying it might have sunken deeper into the sea, possibly some 100 metres, reports said.
The divers deployed to search for more bodies -- and perhaps survivors believed to have been trapped into the wreckage of the ferry could not go beyond 50 metres under the rough waters.