At least 44 people died and an unknown number went missing on Thursday when a ferry capsized in the south of Victoria, Africa's largest lake, Tanzanian government officials said.
"According to reports that President John Magufuli has just received from the authorities in Mwanza, the toll now stands at more than 40 dead," Gerson Msigwa, the president's spokesman said on state television, TBC 1.
UNKNOWN NUMBER ONBOARD
Regional governor John Mongella said late Thursday the toll had reached 44 while 37 others had been rescued, though some were in "a very bad condition".
He added that rescue operations had been suspended and would resume on Friday morning.
The MV Nyerere ferry sank with an unknown number of passengers aboard on Thursday afternoon near Ukara Island in the southeast of Africa's largest lake, according to a statement from Tanzania's Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency.
"There were more than a hundred passengers on board when the ferry sank, it is feared that a significant number have lost their lives," said George Nyamaha, the head of Ukerewe district council of which the island is a part.
The ferry was also carrying cargo including sacks of maize and cement when it capsized, close to the dock.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame.
Six years ago, 144 people died or disappeared when an overloaded ferry sank off the semi-autonomous Tanzanian island of Zanzibar.
MV Nyerere connected Bugolora islands in Ukerewe district, Mwanza province, according to the Tanzanian Ministry of Construction, Transport and Communication.
In a statement, ministry, through the Tanzanian Electrical and Mechanical Services Agency (Temesa), asked members of the public to be patient amid the rescue operations.
Temesa Spokesperson Ms Theresia Mwami said the exact number of casualties had not yet been established.
"The casualties are not known. Rescue efforts are on ... we shall soon establish that," said Ms Mwami.
However, reports from a local FM station in Mwanza indicated that the ferry had more than 400 people on board at the time of the incident and that majority may have drowned.