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Ferry sinks off Zanzibar, number of dead unknown

An overloaded ferry carrying about 600 people sank between two islands in the Zanzibar archipelago, off Tanzania, and a number of people are feared dead, a minister in the semi-autonomous republic said on Saturday.

“We managed to rescue 250 people so far including 20 children [but] rescue operations are hampered by a lack of equipment,” deputy secretary of state for infrastructure and communication Issa Gavu said.

“Navy and police rescue teams have been sent to the scene,” he added.

Private Tanzanian radio station Capital said 51 people had died in the disaster and 269 were injured, but there was no immediate official confirmation of this toll.

The MV Spice Island which was travelling between Zanzibar’s main island Unguja and Pemba, two of the three islands that make up Zanzibar, had left Unguja around 9pm and sank four hours later.

The exact number of passengers on this type of ferry is often difficult to establish as no reliable passenger lists are kept. — AFP

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