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Death toll of Tanzanian ferry accident rises to 27 as over 100 still missing

(Xinhua)

08:24, July 19, 2012

STONE TOWN, Tanzania, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Death toll of Tanzanian ferry accident has risen to 27 as another 15 bodies of the victims were retrieved by search teams after a ferry with over 280 on board capsized in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Mwinyi Haji Makame, state minister in Zanzibari President's Office, so far 27 bodies in total, including one foreigner's whose identity has yet to be announced, were retrieved while 142 passengers have been rescued.

Rescue vessels and divers are still battling to search for more survivors despite strong waves.

Dozens of injured passengers, including 12 foreigners, were rushed to the main hospital for medical treatment at Stone Town while more survivors reached ashore since afternoon.

The ferry belonged to Seagull company was heading to Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, from Dar es Salaam when it sank near Chumbe, a coral park and former army base, about 10 km from Unguja, Zanzibar's main island.

The ferry with six crews and about 281 passengers, including 250 adults and 31 children, left Dar es Salaam at 12:00 p.m. (0900 GMT) for a four hour trip to Unguja.

The strong wind and high waves are attributed to the accident, which according to the survivors, lead to the engine failure and consequent tilting and capsizing of the vessel.

Tanzanian navy and police along with several passenger and cargo ferries nearby have been mobilized to join search and rescue efforts.

Another ferry accident in September last year in the waters near northern Unguja killed over 200 passengers, including many children and women, due to overloading.

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