May 21, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) - At least five people died when a boat carrying 110 passengers overturned on Lake Tana in Ethiopia’s north western region of Amhara on Monday, police told Sudan Tribune.
The boat was travelling to attend a religious event at an island monastery in the Derji area of Lake Tana, which is the source of the Blue Nile River.
Local residents helped the rescue operation.
“The boat overturned when it was only 20 meters away from reaching the port” Amhara’s regional police commission information officer, Solomon Mohamed, told Sudan Tribune.
The cause of the accident is yet to be announced, however initial reports blame bad weather conditions.
“There was heavy rain that led into sudden strong wave which is believed to be cause to the accident’’ the police spokesperson added.
Reached by phone, a survivor said that the boat which belongs to the government owned Tana Transport Enterprise (TTE), was overcrowded.
The captain of the boat survived and is reported to have told accident investigators that the boat may have overturned after passengers moved suddenly to one side of the boat.
No arrests were made in connection with the accident.
Lake Tana which covers an area of 2,156 sq km has 37 islands among them some 20 have churches and monasteries that have ancient religious relics and historic treasures.
Every year thousands of tourists visit Lake Tana’s historic churches and monasteries.
With the flow of tourists to Lake Tana increasing by over 45% in 2012 compared to the previous year the religious sites are a valuable source of income for Ethiopia.