On Wednesday last week, the MV Skagit, leaving the City of Dar es Salaam, had 290 people aboard. It is said to have been hit by strong winds and sank, now with more than 80 missing and about 63 dead.
Survivors complained that they had not been given instructions on evacuation procedures, there was only one exit and some passengers had jumped overboard clinging to life-boats that automatically inflated.
"Search operations continue but it is now almost impossible survivors will be found," Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina told reporters.
"The weather was very bad, there were big waves and strong wind."
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said in a statement: "This tragedy affects all of us, and the pain and suffering of those affected is the pain and suffering that we feel."
Ali Mohamed Shein, president of the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, has declared three days of national mourning.
It would be remembered that last September, at least 240 people died when MV Spice Islander carrying 800 people sank off the Coast of Zanzibar.
The Washington State Department of Transportation said it had sold both vessels to a Canadian company which operates routes between the African continent and Zanzibar.
We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. This is a terrible loss to Zanzibar and humanity.
It Is in this regard that such incidences should be averted in future. While reports have indicated that the ferry was hit by strong winds, thus appearing to be an ‘Act of God’, yet if the Met guys had warned of strong winds then the ferry should not have been set to the seas. Also, the manufacturers of the vessel fixed its capacity at 230 people. Why almost 400 people and luggage were carried on that fateful day, only God knows.
The ferry disasters in East Africa have always been met with characteristic disaster unpreparedness. Rescue efforts are below par, to put it moderately. And it appears that African governments do not learn about their past, however recent it is. It is hardly a year since a similar incident happened claiming about 240 lives.
The question we will ask is this: Did these people have to die?