Ferry disaster: Burial starts, survivors speak

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Mwanza. The burial of the victims of the MV Nyerere ferry disaster starts today as the nation comes to terms with the tragedy that has claimed more than 200 lives.

The Chief of Defence Forces, General Venance Mabeyo, told reporters yesterday that the burial of the victims would start today due to inadequate mortuary facilities on Ukara Island and the bad condition of some of the bodies. “We are going to ask the government to allow us to bury all those who have not yet been identified. And we also urge families to bury their relatives right, especially those whose bodies are in conditions that won’t allow being transported too far off locations,” General Mabeyo told reporters in Ukara Island where the rescue efforts were continuing.

For his part, Works, Communication and Transport minister Isack Kamwelwe announced that death toll had reached 218 by Saturday 8pm and estimates showed that about 47 more bodies were still trapped in the capsized vessel.

He added: “A total of 171 bodies have already been identified and 112 have already been collected by their next of kin for burial.”

General Mabeyo said a towing boat, which was to arrive at Ukara Island from Mwanza yesterday evening, would tow the capsized ferry to the shores to help recover all the trapped bodies.

Even as rescue efforts were being wrapped up some of the survivors explained what happened minutes before the ferry overturned.

One Ochori Burana, a survivor and resident of Ukara Island, said the man behind the wheel made a sharp turn as the vessel approached the dock, leading to the accident.

“As we approached the Ukara dock we saw that the vessel was going in the wrong direction of the dock. And then the man behind the wheel made a sudden turn causing the ferry to capsize,” said Mr Burana in an interview aired by a local TV channel.

Meanwhile, the government has so far received a total of Sh174 million as contribution from various stakeholders that offered as condolences.

The State Minister responsible for Disaster Management, Ms Jenista Mhagama, said a special account has been opened for Good Samaritans to contribute towards operations related to the tragedy.

She said the account is MAAFA MV NYERERE; Account number: 31110057246 held at NMB Bank, Kenyatta Road Branch, Mwanza.