September 11, 2011- The announcement of three days of mourning in Zanzibar followed the deaths of 200 people when a packed ferry weighted with a heavy load of cargo and passengers capsized when hit with strong waves. Recovery efforts were continuing as South Africa sent navy personnel and divers to help. There has also been help from officials in Britain as they sent helicopters.
Officials said they were focusing their efforts at this time on recovering bodies to give back to their relatives but they would not rule out the idea that survivors could still be out there. Over 570 people were saved including more than 20 children.
Many children were returning to school in Zanzibar therefore the ferry had many aboard said a resident of the island. The maximum capacity of this particular ferry was said to be 600 people and was on its route between Pemba and Zanzibar when it capsized.
The boat went down in the predawn hours causing passengers to look for any object to grab a hold of in order to not be swept away by the large waves. Some passengers used floating mattresses as forms of live rafts as they jumped on top of them. The search effort was aided by local residents, hotels and fishermen.
Zanzibar is a part of Tanzania, but semi-autonomous. The archipelago is popular with tourists because of the many sandy beaches found on the islands.