Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ferry Accident

I guess something from Tanzania made global headlines today, so I want everyone to know that I'm alright. But there are over 600 people who were not so lucky. Most are still missing... many are washing up on shore or being recovered from fishing boats. This is one of the biggest tragedies Tanzania has had in recent history.

An evening ferry was traveling from Zanzibar to Pemba Island, about 40km offshore in the Indian Ocean. The ferry was carrying cargo and several hundreds of people. So far, reports are saying that the ship was completely overcrowded, so much so that some people refused to board or hopped off last minute because it seemed so unsafe.

I'll be the first to admit that Tanzanian laws aren't always followed. If you've ever heard me talk about the way they squish people into dala dalas like sardines, then it should be no surprise that the same practices are carried out in taxis, bajajs, pick-up trucks, and also ferries.

In my experience, traveling to and from Zanzibar, they always allow more people than seating capacity allows. About half the passengers are sprawled out on the outer decks because there is never enough room for all of them. Unless you pay for first class, it's a mad rush to get on the ferry because everyone knows there's a good chance they'll be stuck outside for hours if they're too slow--rain or shine, rocky waves or calm seas--even when the sun is beating down on a 100+ degree day.

This particular instance is far worse than anything I have seen before. I sincerely hope it serves as a wake-up call to all those who allow such unsafe practices to continue. This is a major tragedy for Tanzania. So far over 100 have been found dead, and it is thought that hundreds are still missing in the water. 


  1. Hey Christina, did you know anybody who was on this ferry? I'm seeing the stats all over the internet, it's awful

  2. Fortunately, no. I didn't know anyone. I have a few friends in Zanzibar who I was frantically calling when I first heard.

    They declared a national three days of mourning because it was such a major tragedy, so all offices were closed until today.