Canada: Tanzania Zanzibar ferry ‘was seaworthy’

By IndepthAfrica
In East Africa
Jul 20th, 2012
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Residents carry the bodies of victims who died in a ferry tragedy in the Indian Ocean waters, at the port of Zanzibar July 18, 2012. A ferry with more than 280 people on board, including some foreigners, sank off the east African coast of the Zanzibar archipelago on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people, the government said. The ferry, MV Skagit/Kalama, set sail from the mainland Tanzania at around midday heading to Zanzibar, Tanzania’s semi-autonomous archipelago and a popular tourist destination. Rescue boats and divers were searching for any remaining survivors on the mostly submerged vessel. REUTERS/Salma Said (TANZANIA – Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT)

Ottawa – A Canadian company said on Thursday it brokered the sale of the ferry that sank off the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar killing at least 62 people – and that the ship was seaworthy at the time of sale.

“Scope Community Consultants Ltd was asked to co-ordinate the purchase of two sister ferries from Washington State Ferries and shipping them from Seattle to Zanzibar last year,” Scope representative Peter Shayo wrote in an email to AFP.

“At the time they were purchased, they met all the US Coast Guard requirements for operating, and they were also properly inspected prior to shipping out,” Shayo added.

The Scope representative referred any further questions to Seagull Sea Transport Company, which operated the ferry out of Tanzania.

The Washington State Department of Transportation had said it sold two vessels to Scope.

More than 80 people are still missing and presumed dead after the ferry sank on Wednesday in choppy waters off Zanzibar, after leaving Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam. So far, 62 bodies have been recovered.

The vessel officially carried 291 passengers and crew, including more than 30 children. But ferries in the region very often carry additional passengers who are not listed on the manifest.

The boat that sank on Wednesday had initially been reported by officials to be the Kalama, but officials said on Thursday it was in fact its sister ship, the Skagit. Both were built in 1989.

- AFP

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