Dar es Salaam. Survivors have said that a possible cause of the Thursday MV Nyerere ferry disaster was a sharp turn made by the person behind the wheel of the vessel near the dock.
Mr Ochori Burana and Mr Ruben Mpande said the man on the wheel was on his mobile phone at the time the vessel approached the Ukara Island dock, and it was just then that he realised it was heading in the wrong direction and 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 on the right-side. He suddenly made a sharp turn,” said Mr Burana in an interview aired by a local TV station.
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 noted.
MV Nyerere capsized about 50 metres from the Ukara Island dock on Thursday. So far 201 bodies have been recovered and 41 rescued including ferry’s engineer Augustine Charahani, who was found alive inside the capsized vessel yesterday, being two days after the accident.
Over 80 bodies were recovered yesterday. It is now estimated that more than 300 people may have died. However, the rescue mission continues.
President John Magufuli said initial information shows that the person captaining the ship had no formal training and that the real captain was not aboard 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 into the water immediately after the accident and that he grabbed a car wheel which he used to float in the water for about 15 minutes before he was rescued by nearby fishermen.