The Bishop of Mpanda Diocese and Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) President, Gervas John Nyaisonga has thanked His Holiness Pope Francis for his message of condolence at a period when the country is mourning. His Grace Bishop Nyaisonga said, as a Conference, they have owned the Pope’s message and were also echoing their own sadness at the loss of so many lives on Lake Victoria.

Over the weekend, the confirmed death toll from the MV Nyerere disaster stood at 227. Grief stricken relatives wept at the mass burials in Tanzania. Friends and relatives placed wreaths on coffins lined-up for burial on Ukara Island. As reported by Vatican news, Speaking on behalf of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC),  His Excellency Bishop Nyaisonga’s message relayed through TEC’s Secretary General, Fr. Charles Kitima said the Bishops of Tanzania join the Holy Father Pope Francis in expressing their heartfelt condolences over the death of so many people. The Bishops have also expressed their appreciation to all persons involved in rescue efforts as well as in the search for bodies.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli described the MV Nyerere tragedy as a “great disaster for the nation.” He has declared four days of national mourning and ordered the arrests of officials managing the ferry for negligence that has cost lives.