By Kisasa News
44 people and already confirmed dead and the government fears the death toll could rise to as many as 200 people when the rescue efforts resume tomorrow.
Thirty-seven people were rescued after the ferry sank on Thursday afternoon, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella told The Associated Press.
The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency, in charge of servicing the vessels, urged patience as rescue efforts began.
The ferry had been travelling between the islands of Ukara and Bugolora and capsized near the area of Mwanza, the agency said.
Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake, which is surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where passenger boats are often said to be old and in poor condition.
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.
Initial estimates showed that the MV Nyerere was carrying more than 300 people on board.
It went down on Thursday afternoon just a few metres from the dock in Ukerewe district, according to national ferry services operator TEMESA.
It was hard to establish the precise number of passengers on board since the person dispensing tickets had also drowned, with the machine recording the data lost.
TEMESA spokeswoman Theresia Mwami said the operator had carried out maintenance on the ferry in recent months, overhauling two engines.
In 1996, a ferry disaster on Lake Victoria in the same region killed at least 500 people.
In 2012, at least 145 people died in a ferry disaster in Tanzania’s semi- autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean, on a vessel that was overcrowded.