Cargo ship vanishes on Lake Tanganyika

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No trace has been found of a small cargo ship that sank on Lake Tanganyika last week with the loss of 14 lives.

Mbaza departed Kasanga port, Tanzania, near the southern end of the 670km-long lake at 23.45 on 10 January. About two hours later the Burundi-flagged ship sank near the village of Kala, in Rukwa Region.

One crewmember was rescued by Teza, which had sailed from the Zambian port of Mpulungu, but he remains unconscious so has shed no light on the incident, according to local media.

The other 12 crew and two passengers are missing presumed dead.

While details are scarce, local reports suggest the weather suddenly worsened after Mbaza left Kasanga.

“Even after all state security organs in the region visited the area they established nothing tangible related to the sinking of the ship,” said Rukwa regional commissioner Stella Manyanya, according to Tanzanian paper Daily News.

Tanzania’s Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) said the ship had been inspected and cleared to sail from Kasanga.

But local reports suggested that Mbaza lacked navigational equipment. This section of the lake lacks radio and telephone communications, said the Rukwa regional police commander.

Despite a series of accidents on Lake Tanganyika, little has been done to improve safety on the lake.

Exactly one month before Mbaza’s disappearance, ferry Mutambala sank in a storm on the Democratic Republic of Congo side of the lake with the loss of about 130 lives.—IHS Maritime

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