The ferry capsized just a few meters from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake’s biggest island, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, about 100 people were said to be rescued from the water, while about 30 are significantly injured.
However, the exact number of the people onboard, the deceased, the missing and the survivors cannot be estimated because the ticketing officer was among those who perished in the disaster. Relevant equipment was also lost. One official told Reuters that the number of the drowned could surpass 200.
It is thought the overloaded vessel toppled over when crowds onboard moved to one side as it docked, according to BBC.
Locals joined with emergency teams in rescue efforts on Thursday afternoon.
Maritime disasters are a key characteristic of Tanzania's history with overcrowding often being a significant factor. In 2012, over 145 people died when a ferry sank while transporting people to the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean. In 2011, almost 200 people lost their lives in another major incident off Zanzibar.
In 1996, more than 800 people died when the MV Bukoba capsized on Lake Victoria, claiming one of the worst ferry disasters in recent history.