Tanzania Ferry Tragedy Highlights the Danger of Overcrowding

This week we have been talking about two recent ferry accidents: a May 7 incident involving the M/V MATANUSKA, which caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the Ocean Beauty Seafoods building in Petersburg, Alaska, and the tragic sinking of the M/V SKAGIT off the coast of Zanzibar on July 18, which killed at least 128 people.

One thing these two maritime accidents have in common is that human error is to blame. The Alaska incident resulted from a maneuvering error, while overcrowding led to the Tanzania tragedy. The captain of the M/V MATANUKSA faces administrative action, and three people have already been charged with manslaughter in connection with the M/V SKAGIT incident.

Tanzania ferry safety has come under scrutiny. Within days of the M/V SKAGIT accident–the second Tanzania ferry disaster in less than a year–Zanzibar Minister for Infrastructure and Communication Hamad Masoud Hamad stepped down. Moreover, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete has reportedly called for the establishment of a coast guard and has been urging marine transport authorities to enforce passenger and cargo limits.

To help ensure their safety, ferry passengers everywhere should disembark from a vessel that seems overcrowded. Overcrowding can cause a ferry to lose its stability and capsize, and if there are more people aboard than should be, there may not be enough life saving equipment for everyone.

When ferry owners and operators prioritize profits over people and send an overloaded vessel out to sea, they should be held accountable for their negligence. If you have been injured on any type of vessel because of overcrowding, unseaworthiness or defective equipment, visit our website to learn more about maritime law, and call us at (800) 392-6072 to learn about your rights from a qualified Boston maritime attorney.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers