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Overcrowded ferry sinks off coast of Tanzania, killing scores

msnbc.com news services report:

"They normally pack us in like sardines in a can. And for that I really fear this could be a very big disaster," said resident Mwnakhamis Juma.

The government in Zanzibar said last month it planned to invest in bigger, more reliable vessels to ferry passengers between the two islands.

"We are fearing the greatest calamity in the history of Zanzibar. This is a disaster," said a government official, who declined to be named.

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Sultan Ali / AP

Tanzanian police carry bodies of children from the sea in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Sept. 10. An overcrowded ship sank in deep waters off mainland Tanzania with about 600 people aboard, and about 370 people are believed missing or dead. The ferry, M.V. Spice Islanders, was heavily overloaded and some potential passengers had refused to board when it was leaving the mainland port of Dar es Salaam, said survivor Abdullah Saied. It sank in an area with heavy currents between mainland Tanzania and Pemba Island at about 1 a.m. Saturday. Roughly 230 people had been rescued and 40 bodies had been recovered, said Mohamed Aboud, the minister for the vice president's office.

Emmanuel Kwitema / Reuters

Residents of Zanzibar gather to view the bodies of their loved ones who perished in a ferry tragedy that occurred on its way to Pemba, Sept. 10.