More than 200 people feared dead after ferry sinks in Lake Victoria

Rescue workers at the scene where a ferry overturned on Lake Victoria

At least 10 people were reported to have died after a packed ferry sank on Lake Victoria.

'According to reports that President John Magufuli has just received from the authorities in Mwanza, the toll now stands at more than 40 dead, ' Gerson Msigwa, the president's spokesman, said on state television.

Regional governor John Mongella said late Thursday the toll had reached 44 while 37 others had been rescued, though some were in "a very bad condition". Rescue efforts have been halted until dawn on Friday.

The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency (Temesa), which operates ferry services, said the MV Nyerere did not have any mechanical problems because heavy maintenance had been carried on it in recent months including overhauling two engines.

It has a capacity of 100 passengers and about 25 tonnes of cargo.

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In 2012, at least 145 people died in a ferry disaster in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean, on a vessel that was overcrowded. The ferry was heading to Ukara Island from Ukara.

Earlier, the Ministry of Transport and Communication in Tanzania (TEMESA) had informed the public about the incident and also confirmed that hundreds of travelers were on board.

"The casualties are not known".

An eyewitness told this paper that more than 20 people were rescued by fishermen immediately after the accident occurred.

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