Dozens drown in ferry capsize in Tanzania

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A regional official in Tanzania says the death toll has risen to 86 after a ferry sank on Lake Victoria.

John Mongella, commissioner for the Mwanza region, initially put the number of dead at 86, but Tanzania's state radio TBC said more than 100 bodies had been found so far.

He can not say how many people were on board until the search and rescue operation is over.

Ukerewe district commissioner Colonel Lucas Magembe told Reuters the rescue mission to find survivors from Thursday's disaster has been halted until dawn on Friday.

This will be the third major ferry disaster for Tanzania in recent years, after 500 people died on a Lake Victoria ferry in 1996 and almost 200 people died off the coast of Zanzibar in 2012.

Tanzanian ferries often carry hundreds of passengers and are overcrowded, and shifts in weight as people move to disembark can become deadly.

According to sources, the ferry, with a capacity of 101 passengers and 25 tonnes of cargo, capsized at around 1:00 p.m. local time. Capsizes are not uncommon and the number of deaths is often high because of a shortage of lifejackets and the fact that many people in the region can not swim.

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Initial estimates suggested that the ferry was carrying more than 300 people when it went down on Thursday afternoon, just a few metres from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake's biggest island, which is part of Tanzania.

The captain of a ferry which sank on Lake Victoria has been arrested as the death toll from the disaster climbed above 130.

President John Magufuli was "deeply saddened" by the disaster and called on Tanzanians to "stay calm during these hard times", according to spokesman Gerson Msigwa.

In a televised address, the president said the ferry captain already had been detained after leaving the steering to someone who wasn't properly trained, The Citizen newspaper reported.

With a surface area of 70,000 sq km (27,000 sq miles), the oval-shaped Lake Victoria is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

The MV Nyerere ferry overturned near the shore between the islands of Ukora and Bugolora.

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