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Officials Quit After Ferry Disaster

Africa: Two ministers resign from Senegal's Cabinet in aftermath of sinking that killed 1,000.

October 02, 2002|From Reuters

DAKAR, Senegal — This country's defense and transport ministers resigned Tuesday in the wake of a ferry disaster in which nearly 1,000 people were killed.

Rescuers recovered only 64 survivors from among the 1,034 people on board the Joola, which overturned late Thursday after being caught in a fierce Atlantic storm off the coast of Gambia.

President Abdoulaye Wade said Armed Forces Minister Youba Sambo and Transport Minister Youssouf Sakho had resigned. The ferry, built to carry 550 people, was operated by the armed forces.

Anger against the government has been growing since the extent of overloading was revealed.

"The many failings revealed will be punished without haste and on the basis of careful investigation," Wade said in his first national address since the disaster.

Nearly 400 bodies were recovered from the ferry off the fishing village of Sanyang in Gambia, a sliver of a country that almost cuts Senegal in two. The Joola had sailed for Dakar, the capital, from the southern city of Ziguinchor.

The search for bodies trapped in the hull 75 feet beneath the Atlantic was called off Monday.

Interior Minister Mamadou Niang said Tuesday that there were proposals to raise the ship or possibly turn it into a memorial to the dead.

A Senegalese crisis unit said foreign passengers included 10 French nationals, five Spaniards, two Dutch, two Belgians and two Swiss, along with 20 people from Guinea Bissau. One Frenchman was among the rescued.

Amateur television footage showed the Joola listing heavily to starboard before it left Ziguinchor, in the southern Casamance region. Canoes could be seen continuing to bring more unofficial passengers to scramble aboard.

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