Four people have been charged with causing the deaths of more than 200 people when a crowded ferry sank last week in Zanzibar, local media reported.
The captain of the MV Spice Islander I ferry, Said Abdallah Kinyanyite, 58, who remains missing, was charged in absentia at the Zanzibar High Court on Friday.
Authorities said they could not confirm whether or not the captain had drowned in the accident in the early hours of September 10. More than 600 people survived the tragedy in the popular tourist destination, Reuters rpeorts.
Prosecutors also charged one of the owners of the ferry, Yusuf Suleiman Jussa, 47, first officer Abdallah Mohamed Ali, 30, and a Zanzibar Ports Authority employee responsible for passenger inspection, Silima Nyange Silima, 27.
Zanzibar’s director of public prosecutions Ramadhan Nassib told the court their negligence led to the sinking of the ferry and the deaths of 203 people, Tanzania’s Citizen newspaper reported.
The death toll rose to 203 after six bodies were found this week in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.
The prosecutor said the accused allowed the ferry to be overloaded with passengers and cargo.
Zanzibar authorities promised to punish those responsible for the Indian Ocean archipelago’s worst ferry disaster.
Rescue teams, with the help of South African navy divers, on Friday abandoned efforts to retrieve more bodies thought to be trapped inside the capsized vessel.