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At least 63 confirmed dead in Tanzanian ferry accident

(Xinhua)

08:19, July 20, 2012

STONE TOWN, Tanzania, July 19 (Xinhua) -- At least 63 people were confirmed dead in a ferry accident, one of the deadliest in Tanzania's recent maritime history, while hope for finding more survivors is dimming, officials said here on Thursday.

Zanzibar's Minister of Infrastructure and Communication, Hamad Masoud Hamad, said in a statement issued here through the official Zanzibar TV that 146 people were rescued, including 15 tourists from the U.S., Belgium, Holland, and Germany.

Officials put the number of people on board the MV Skagit at 290, including nine crews and 31 children.

Remains of the victims are kept in a tent at Maisara ground in Stone Town for relatives to recognize. Only a few have yet to be claimed by Thursday evening as several more bodies are retrieved by search team and sent to the ground.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and his wife visited Maisara ground in the evening and sent a brief message to the bereaved families asking them to be tolerant, echoing earlier calls by Zanzibar's leaders.

The government official blamed the strong wind for the tragedy as the ferry heading to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam sank near Chumbe, a coral park and former army base, west of Zanzibar.

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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