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Zanzibar to charge 5 in ferry capsizing that killed more than 200

By Faith Karimi, CNN
Rescue workers carry a young girl who was aboard the ship when it sank.
Rescue workers carry a young girl who was aboard the ship when it sank.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four of the suspects have been arrested and will appear in court Monday
  • They are two port officials, the owner of the ship and a transport official
  • The missing captain will be charged in absentia
  • Zanzibar is a popular tourist destination
RELATED TOPICS
  • Tanzania

(CNN) -- Tanzanian authorities will charge five men with negligence after a ferry capsized off the island of Zanzibar this month, killing more than 200 people.

Four of the suspects have been arrested and will appear in court Monday, said Suleiman Haji Suleiman, a spokesman for the second vice president of Zanzibar.

They are two port officials, the owner of the ship and a transport official in charge of ensuring passengers' safety.

"All those people will pay for allowing the overloaded ferry to leave port," the spokesman said. "The captain of the ship is still missing, but there's a warrant out for his arrest. We are hearing that he fled to Kenya or another neighboring country."

The captain will be charged in absentia, he said, adding that a complete list of their charges will be presented Monday.

Government officials are investigating the source of the accident and will report their findings in about two weeks, the spokesman said.

It was unclear how many people were aboard the ship when it sank on September 10, but more than 600 people survived, according to authorities. It capsized in the predawn hours, sending passengers clinging to mattresses and objects from the cargo to avoid getting swallowed by the dark waves.

Authorities said the ferry -- MV Spice Islander --carries a maximum capacity of about 600 people and was traveling between the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.

The two main islands on the Zanzibar archipelago are popular among tourists for their pristine sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean.

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania.

CNN's Jim Clancy contributed to this report

 
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