Tanzania ferry accident: Survivors recount what happened minutes before disaster

What you need to know:

  • Survivors says the man who steering the wheel was on the phone and made a sharp turn when he realised he was heading in the wrong direction.


Survivors have said the MV Nyerere ferry capsized after the person steering the vessel made a sharp turn towards the dock.

Mr Ochori Burana and Mr Ruben Mpande said the man on the wheel had been on his mobile telephone and as the vessel was approaching the Ukara Island dock he realised that it was going in the wrong direction and it could miss the docking area.

“People were telling him to stop his telephone conversation and focus on the wheel. As we approached the Ukara dock we saw that he was going on the left of the dock while the disembarking area is in the right side. He suddenly he made a sharp turn,” said Mr Burana in an interviews aired by the state broadcaster, TBC1.

He added: “After the sharp turn the vessel ducked to one side throwing out people and cargo and when it pivoted to the other it went down with everyone else in it. I jumped on the water and swam to the shores,” Mr Mpande said.


MV Nyerere capsized 50 metres from the Ukara Island dock on Thursday, September 20. So far 207 bodies have been recovered and 41 rescued including an engineer, Augustine Charahani, who was found alive inside the capsized vessel on Saturday more than 40 hours after the accident.

Sixty people have been recovered on Saturday and in total more than 300 people are feared dead as rescue mission continues.

President John Magufuli said initial information show that the person captaining the ship had no formal training and that the real captain was not in the vessel.

“We have already arrested the captain and officials in charge of operations of MV Nyerere ferry for further questioning,” President Magufuli said in a televised national address on Friday evening.


Mr Burana said he survived because he jumped in the water immediately after the accident and he grabbed a car tyre which he used to float in the water for over 15 minutes and was later rescued by nearby fishermen.

Mr Burana further revealed that he lost his six relatives in the ferry disaster, and only three bodies have been recovered.

Mr Mpande also said he was travelling with his 10 relatives, whose bodies had not been recovered by Saturday.

“I am in shock. I am hapless,” Mpande noted.

Most of the people on board the MV Nyerere were going for a weekly open air market in Ukara Islands.


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