Stone Town (Tanzania): More than 200 bodies have been recovered after a crowded ferry sank off Tanzania's coast and some 600 have been rescued, an official said on Sunday, figures that indicate the boat was filled beyond capacity.
Relatives had claimed 192 bodies and 28 more were awaiting identification on Sunday, said Mohammed Aboud Mohammed, the Minister for State in the Vice President's office on the island of Zanzibar. He said around 600 people had been rescued so far.
Survivors said the M V Spice Islanders, which sank early on Saturday near the tourist destination of Zanzibar, was well beyond its official capacity of 600 passengers.
The bodies have been taken to a sports field, where imams are saying prayers and the bodies are being washed and wrapped in white according to Islamic custom. The government is paying for all funeral costs, he said.
Weeping families walked among them looking for their loved ones, falling into each others' arms if they recognised a relative or neighbour.
Most of the corpses were wrapped in cloth with a photo of the face placed on the front.
Some of the ship's passengers were mutilated when cargo fell on top of them when the boat began to list.
The ferry left Tanzania's commercial capital of Dar Es Salaam loaded with building materials, mattresses and passengers, survivors said.
It stopped at the island of Zanzibar and then continued on to Pemba, a top diving destination. But it began to list in the early hours of Saturday, and eventually sank in an area of deep sea and strong currents.