Ferry disaster in Zanzibar

Three days of national mourning have been declared in Zanzibar after a Tanzanian ferry carrying an estimated 290 passengers capsized near the main island of Zanzibar on 18 July.

The tragedy has left at least 63 people dead, including two Europeans, with over 80 still unaccounted for. Although 145 people have been saved, rescue efforts have been hampered by bad weather and authorities hold little hope for finding more survivors.

The MV Skagit ferry had set sail from Dar es Salaam at midday on 18 July but encountered rough seas off Chumpe Island which caused the vessel to overturn, trapping many people underneath.

Built in the US in 1989, the boat is an ex-Washington State Ferry (WSF) and was reportedly certified in Tanzania to carry up to 250 passengers and crew.

The route between Dar es Salaam and semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago is a busy crossing, popular with locals and foreign tourists.

Last September, nearly 200 people died when the grossly-overcrowded M/V Spice Islander ferry carrying 800 passengers sank off Zanzibar.

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