18 Sep 2011

Four charged over Zanzibar ferry disaster

10:02 am on 18 September 2011

Four people have been charged with causing the deaths of 203 people when a crowded ferry sank last week in Zanzibar.

The captain of the MV Spice Islander I ferry, Said Abdallah Kinyanyite, 58, who remains missing, was charged in absentia at the Zanzibar High Court on Friday.

It is not known whether he drowned when the ship overturned and sank early on 10 September.

The Citizen newspaper reported that the others to be charged were: one of the owners of the ferry, Yusuf Suleiman Jussa, 47; first officer Abdallah Mohamed Ali, 30; and a Zanzibar Ports Authority employee responsible for passenger inspection, Silima Nyange Silima, 27.

Director of public prosecutions Ramadhan Nassib told the court their negligence led to the sinking of the ferry and the deaths of 203 people.

The prosecutor said the accused allowed the ferry to be overloaded with passengers and cargo.

The death toll rose to 203 after six bodies were found this week in Mombasa, Kenya. However, more than 600 people survived.

South African navy divers on Friday abandoned efforts to retrieve more bodies thought to be trapped inside the capsized vessel.