Tanzania Boat Accident: 'Scores' Feared Dead After Ferry Carrying Hundreds of Passengers Sinks

Emergency crews are working to rescue passengers after a ferry in Tanzania's Lake Victoria sank on Thursday, authorities have confirmed.

Tanzania's Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency (TEMESA), which operates ferries in the country, said the boat MV Nyereresank in the afternoon in Ukerewe district of the Mwanza region, Reuters reported. It remains unclear how many people were aboard and how many may have died, with some reports suggesting there were as many as 400 to 500 when the vessel capsized.

Local media has thus far reported just six casualties, according to Africa News. But Will Ross, who is the Africa editor of BBC News, posted to Twitter, saying that only a small portion of the passengers have reportedly been rescued out of hundreds.

A Tanzanian ferry has capsized on Lake Victoria with hundreds of passengers on board. The MV Nyerere was close to land between Ukerewe + Ukora islands - north of of Mwanza. Not yet clear how many people have been rescued.

— will ross (@willintune) September 20, 2018

Only 32 rescued so far with reports that as between 400 and 500 passengers were on the Tanzanian ferry MV Nyerere which capsized on Lake Victoria.

— will ross (@willintune) September 20, 2018

"Only 32 rescued so far with reports that as between 400 and 500 passengers were on the Tanzanian ferry MV Nyerere which capsized on Lake Victoria," Ross wrote.

Others on social media have said that "scores" are feared dead.

"Rescue operations underway for passengers as MV Nyerere plying between Bugorara and Ukala islands," verified Twitter account The African Voice wrote.

Theresia Mwami, a spokeswoman for TEMESA, told Reuters that the agency has not yet determined the precise number of passengers who were traveling on the boat or whether anyone has died. When it capsized, the ferry had nearly arrived at the dock and was just a few meters out, Mwami said.

TEMESA also called on the public to remain calm, saying that more details would be made available as they were known.

BREAKING: Rescue operations underway for passengers as MV Nyerere plying between Bugorara and Ukala islands, Tanzania sinks in Lake Victoria. Scores feared dead. pic.twitter.com/HiRQjeA3QB

— The African Voice (@teddyeugene) September 20, 2018

A similar incident occurred six years ago in Tanzania, leaving at least 145 dead. The overcrowded ferry sank on its way to the East African country's semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean.

After the 2012 disaster, survivors told the BBC that they were not given any instructions on how to evacuate the sinking boat, and instead were merely told to remain calm. The vessel, the MV Skagit, had been traveling from Dar es Salaam with 290 passengers on board.

Hamza Kabelwa, director of the Tanzania Meteorological Agency at the time, also told the BBC that the MV Skagit and other boats had been warned not to make the crossing because of the rough seas. Police confirmed that weather had exacerbated the tragedy.

"The weather was very bad, there were big waves and strong wind," Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina told reporters after the sinking.