A Tragic Story of a Ferry capsizing in East Africa


In recent news, a ferry capsized in Tanzania, Africa and killed 224 people.When the ferry capsized, it was about 55 yards away from the island’s dock.  A man that was extremely lucky to survive tells his story and the story of the people that died on the ferry. When the ferry capsized it caused six of his relatives to die and the whole East African nation grieving over the 224 people dead. The survivor, Ochori Burana, stated that the ferry was extremely overcrowded with hundreds of people that were heading to a well- known open air market in his area. The ferry capsized on Thursday in Lake Victoria.

As stated by New York tTimes, the ferry typically has more passengers on Thursday, a large market day on the nearby island of Ukerewe, which is where the MV Nyerere was coming from when it sank near Ukara. It is about an hour long journey by ferry between the two islands.

According to Burana, minutes before the disaster, the ferry made a very sharp turn and tipped to one side, throwing many people and cargo into the extremely cold water. Burana jumped out just before the ferry went down and grabbed on to a car tire floating in the water. Burana used the car tire to stay floating for approximately 15 minutes before a group of fisherman luckily saved his life.

A junior, Simarleen Rana, said, “I think it is important that some people survived so that they can at least find out what happened to the others that passed away and respond appropriately.” As the nation mourned over the people who had lost theirs lives in this tragedy, many relatives dug mass graves as hundreds of colorful coffins lined the shores. Family members were waiting near the water weeping as rescue swimmers pulled their relatives dead bodies out of the water.

According to CNN, the captain of the overloaded ferry has been arrested, and all its operators will be detained for questioning, President John Magufuli said. In an address Friday, Magufuli said the captain left the ferry's steering in the hands of an untrained person. Initial reports indicated that overloading contributed to the deadly disaster, but an investigation will determine the exact cause, the Tanzanian leader said.

The whole east African nation is left mourning over the 224 people that they lost. People lost their family and friends in this disaster. At least 40 people were rescued and identifications of about 172 bodies have been discovered from this tragedy.

A sophomore, Mackenzie Jones said, “This is such a tragic story, that no one should have went through.” Ochori Burana is extremely lucky to have survived this incident but has to go through the pain of six of his relatives dying on that same ferry. Most of the bodies have been identified and will be buried in one place.

According to The Straits Times, the remainder of the dead were to be buried later or taken away by families wishing for privates funerals.The prime minister said a memorial would be built on Ukara. Hopes had faded of finding any more survivors three days after the disaster, even after rescuers pulled out an engineer on Saturday who had holed up in an air pocket in the upturned vessel.

The ferry that capsized was being operated by a government agency and had a capacity of 101 passengers. More than double the capacity level were on the ferry when it overturned.

Survivors were able to share that in addition to the abundance of people, the ferry was also loaded with cars, trucks, sacks of maize and baggage. President John Magufuli of Tanzania ordered that several members of the ferry’s management must be arrested and later suspended the head of the agency in charge of the ferry.

According to Los Angeles Times, one of the most common causes of fatal ferry accidents is overloading or overcrowding — officials in Tanzania reportedly have said a preliminary investigation found that overloading appeared to be the main reason for the tragedy last week. Bad weather, old or substandard vessels and poor crew training are also regular factors.Overcrowding can influence the stability of a vessel and people’s ability to get out of danger, but there’s a strong financial component to the matter, said Roberta Weisbrod, executive director of the ferry safety group. When interviewing Evan Ackerman he said, “This is a huge problem, tremendously tragic.”

This disaster helps focus on the dangerous issues of overcrowding on ferries in this region and really everywhere around the world. Ferries in this area are often extremely overcrowded and are typically way over the capacity level. As stated by BBC News Tanzania, the country has experienced many tragedies just like this; Tanzania has seen a number of nautical disasters, with overcrowding often playing a role. In 2012, at least 145 people died when a packed ferry sank while transporting people to the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean.The year before, almost 200 people died in another major incident off the coast of Zanzibar. Hundreds survived, some found clinging to mattresses and fridges. In 1996, more than 800 people died when the MV Bukoba capsized on Lake Victoria. It was one of the the worst ferry disasters of the last century. It’s disappointing to hear all the disasters that have happened in this area of the world due to over capacity.

Lili Noah