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Friday, July 20, 2012

Zanzibar tragedy: More bodies, more survivors

 

Divers fail to locate MV Skagit, believed to be in deep sea
 
Women queue at Zanzibar�s Maisara grounds yesterday to identify bodies of their relatives who died in a ship accident on Wednesday. (Photo: Khalfan Said)
The number of people killed in Wednesday’s Zanzibar ferry tragedy has reached 58, while that of those rescued stood at 150 as of yesterday evening.
However further reports say that divers have failed to locate the yesterday sunken boat, MV Skagit, which they believe could now be in the deeper sea.
Speaking to The Guardian in a telephone interview yesterday Zanzibar Disaster Department director Ally Juma said the rescue exercise was still proceeding with divers searching for passengers trapped in the sunk boat.
According to him, the rescue exercise would continue for three days to look for either more survivors, the injured or dead passengers. It will end today, according to authorities.
“Our rescue team resumed work early in the morning and managed to rescue some people alive but the number of deaths has increased to 53,” he said.
Juma acknowledged efforts initiated by the rescuing team, and supports from the police force and private companies.
“Until now we have not received or asked for technical support from any countries in the ongoing rescue exercise… we’re using our own divers and available gear to track the victims,” he said.
Meanwhile, latest reports said that divers have failed to locate the sunken boat, MV Skagit, despite their efforts to dive deeper into the Zanzibar Channel.
Speaking to The Guardian at the scene, the divers said that some bodies of dead persons were floating on the sea but could not find the boat.
Diver Ali Ramadhan said using oxygen tanks, he tried to go up to 25 meters deep but failed to locate the boat.
He said it was no possibility of pull out the boat because it had sunk into the deep sea. However, he said efforts to rescue the survivors and recover the dead bodies will continue despite the fact that they were being pushed away by waves.
For their part, sailors who took part in the rescue work said that although Kilimanjaro III boat arrived
at the scene earlier, the process was difficult due to lack of gear and fuel.
However Zanzibar Port board member traded blames with the Zanzibar Port Corporation officials for refusing to provide fuel needed in the rescue boats.
They blamed ZPC Acting Director for the delay in disbursing fuel funds causing the boats to go to the scene late.
Speaking to The Guardian at Malindi, Zanzibar the Acting ZPC Director, Msanifu Mussa Haji, turned dwon the claims saying the corporation was the first to present their portion immediately after receiving reports of the sinking boat.
For his part, Zanzibar Marine Authority acting director
Abdalla Hussen Kombo, said rescue work was supposed to be carried out immediately after receiving reports from Marine Rescue and Control Centre.
He said the centre received reports on the weather forecast from Tanzania Meteorological Agency early in Wednesday, adding that it was responsible for relaying the alert report when the disaster occurred.
Further reports said that the boat with the capacity of carrying 380 passengers was manufactured in the US in 1989.
Kombo said it was brought into Zanzibar in October 2011 and last inspection was conducted in May this year and was only allowed to carry 250 passengers under supervision of its quality.
Owned by Said Abdulraman, an Isles businessman it had only two years remaining before its operation expires.
Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Ali Mussa said that police were still hunting for the owner and capt of the boat, adding that they only managed to get two sailors who are being interrogated.
Meanwhile, Zanzibar Infrastructure minister Hamad Masoud Hama has said he is not ready to resign as demanded by the members of the public.
Up to yesterday evening of 58 bodies recovered 47 had already been identified. The rescued number reached while 150 people 10 of whom are tourists.
In another development the Dar es Salaam Region Disaster Committee has sent its team to join other rescue missions in Zanzibar.
Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck Sadiki in a news conference, he said, city residents sympathise with what happened to the victims of the ill fated ship.
RC Sadiki also thanked the Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) for their contribution of equipment to help the victims of capsized boat.
The contributions include polythene bags, 200 pairs of gloves and 100 masks for people who continue with the rescue work.
Meanwhile, the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Suleiman Kova has said: “The police force is currently, holding the Seagull manager Omar Hassan Mnkhonje for interrogation.
The Zanzibar bound boat left Dar es Salaam on Wednesday at 12 noon but overturned on Zanzibar Channel at around 1.55 pm according to the Dar port control room.
According to the Surface and Marine Transport Authority (Sumatra) manifest, when the boat left Dar es Salaam port it had 290 people on board of whom 250 were adults, 31 children and nine members of the crew.

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