The death toll from Saturday’s MV Spice Islander I tragedy has risen slightly as more bodies were found along the shores of Mombasa in Kenya, Zanzibar’s Second Vice President Seif Ali Idd said yesterday.
He told journalists that five bodies were recovered on the shores of the Kenyan coastal city and have already been buried.
“The death toll has now risen to 202. I would like to appeal to Zanzibar residents to extend cooperation to the South African divers (who joined the search and rescue operation yesterday) and report to the relevant authorities whenever they see a dead body,” he noted.
Ambassador Idd said the five bodies found in along the Mombasa coast are of three women, a man and a child, adding that they were in bad state and could not be transported back home.
He further explained that the search and rescue operation continues because the government believes that more bodies could be found as there are people still unaccounted for.
Elaborating on the bodies located in Mombasa, he said: “We received information from Tanzania’s High Commissioner in Kenya to the effect that the bodies were in bad condition and could not be transferred (to Zanzibar).”
Meanwhile, police have started interrogating the owners of ill-fated marine vessel – prominent businessmen Jaku Hashimu Ayoub and Salum Said Batashi, the latter doubling as Zanzibar House of Representatives Member for Muyuni.
The two own shares in the vessel, which is the property of Al-qubra Marine Service based at Mkunazini Street in Zanzibar.
Meanwhile, Zanzibar Infrastructure minister Hamad Masoud Hamad has appointed members of the Zanzibar Board of Marine Services: Ali Mohammed Shoka, Salum Taufiq Ali, Seif Said Issa, Omar Haji Omar and former Muyuni representative Ramadhan Nyonje Pandu.
A press statement issues here yesterday said the appointments are with immediate effect and follow Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein’s recent appointment of the board’s chairperson.
On Monday, Ambassador Idd said the death toll could rise significantly after it emerged that there were more than 1,000 passengers aboard the vessel when it capsized.
Initial reports suggested that it was carrying 800 people, well above its 600-passenger capacity, when it sank in Tanzania’s worst maritime disaster for 15 years. More than 600 passengers were rescued.
Speaking in Zanzibar during special prayers on Monday for the victims of the tragedy, President Jakaya Kikwete appealed to the relatives and friends of people who died in the tragedy to be patient as the authorities moved to handle the situation.