“His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing,” his telegram said, according to the Vatican.
At least 37 people had been rescued from the sunken ferry as of Thursday evening, when rescue teams called off their work overnight. No foreigners had been found among the dead, Mwanza police commander Jonathan Shanna said Friday.
The passenger ferry MV Nyerere, named for the former president who led the East African nation to independence, was travelling between Ukara and Bugolora when it sank, according to the government agency in charge of servicing the vessels.
Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where passenger boats are often said to be old and in poor condition.
In 1996, more than 800 people died when passenger and cargo ferry MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria.
Nearly 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.