Saturday January 26, 2013
11 killed when truck hits people boarding Kenya ferry
NAIROBI: At least 11 people were killed Saturday morning when a truck lost control and rammed into passengers boarding a ferry in Kenya's port city of Mombasa, the Kenya Red Cross said.
"So far we can confirm 11 deaths from the ferry tragedy. Those that had been trapped were rescued and more than 20 people have been evacuated," Mombasa regional Red Cross chief Mwanaisha Hamisi told AFP.
Hamisi confirmed witness accounts of the event, saying "the lorry rammed into the passengers as they were boarding the ferry."
"Its brakes failed then it lost control and hurtled down the ferry's boarding ramp, running over the passengers and trapping people underneath it," the Red Cross official added.
Hamisi said that the death toll could rise as "many people are trapped in the wreckage."
A witness, Hassan Juma, who was on his way to work told an AFP reporter that he "saw the lorry lose control and ram into a crowd of passengers boarding the ferry."
The incident occurred at around 6:30 am local time (0330 GMT). "The lorry was actually on the boarding queue waiting for the next ferry when its brakes failed," she said.
The area traffic police boss confirmed the Saturday incident but was unsure of the number of dead and injured.
"We have dispatched a team to the scene...We can't tell the exact number of people because there are a lot of people usually crossing the channel," regional traffic police chief Joshua Omukata said. By 0900 GMT, services across the channel had resumed, with authorities recording no further casualties.
The Mombasa ferry service has in the recent past seen several incidents including breakdowns halfway through the Likoni channel - the key link between Mombasa Island and Kenya's south coast - which also serves as a corridor for traffic heading to neighbouring Tanzania.
In November, thousands of travellers, including tourists, were delayed for several hours after all the ferries shuttling across the channel were cancelled following mechanical breakdowns. The Kenya Ferry Service says that up to 200,000 people and 5,000 motorists use the ferry services every day.
In October a tanker got stuck at a ferry ramp and partially sunk, spilling thousands of litres of cooking oil into the Indian Ocean.
Mombasa, some 400 kilometres (248 miles) southeast of the capital Nairobi, is Kenya's main port city and a key tourist hub famed for its hotels and sandy beaches.-AFP