By Ali Sultan Associated Press
ZANZIBAR, Tanzania — Stormy conditions hampered rescue efforts Thursday for a capsized ferry off Tanzania’s coast, as officials said the death toll had risen to at least 31.
The government said that more than 100 passengers were still missing one day after the MV Skagit, formerly a Washington state ferry, capsized.
The Skagit formerly served the Seattle-to-Vashon Island route as a passneger-only ferry. Built in New Orleans, it was taken off the route and sold.
The Red Cross said at least 146 people were rescued after the accident. The MV Skagit left Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania, on Wednesday en route to the island of Zanzibar.
One accident survivor, Rashid Mohamed, said that heavy winds caused the boat to lose control and flip over just a few kilometers (miles) short of Zanzibar’s main port.
“Heavy winds blew from every side,” Mohamed, 24, said. “The boat swayed many times before flipping over.”
Passengers said the ferry was overloaded. The Red Cross said the ferry was certified to carry 250 people but may have been carrying more than 280.
Stormy weather hampered rescue efforts. Family members thronged the port for news on missing loved ones.
Last September more than 200 people were killed when a crowded ferry traveling between two islands of Zanzibar sank.