It's just been reported that 41 people are dead and 730 are missing after a state-owned ferry sank in heavy seas off the coast of Senegal. 150 people were rescued from the sea by a passing Italian boat, 30 of whom were injured. The ferry was en-route to Dakar.
Even if not topheavy, in that part of the world, overloading seems to be a common enough practice...with the usual unhappy results. It seems a year hardly goes by that several such accidents aren't mentioned on Maritime Matters or the CargoLaw site.
It now appears the number of people on board was 1,034. 64 were rescued, making a death toll of 970. Most were students travelling to Dakar for the new school term but passengers also included French citizens, Swiss, Spanish and other Europeans. Almost one thousand people dead and it barely rates a mention in the world's press.
It's been covered pretty well Down Under, both by TV and the papers.
By my reckoning, I think it's the fourth worse peacetime passenger ship disaster, behind Dona Paz, Titanic and Empress of Ireland. I suspect that the dreaded free surface effect played a part. According to one survivor, the ship may have had insufficient power to face the waves. If water entered the vehicle deck, a capsize would easily occur. To me, the ship looks unsuitable for the open ocean.
Can't say as the findings of that Inquiry were much of a surprise. Overcrowding and negligence...the Usual Suspects. I've a hunch that the next of kin waiting for that promised $30,000,000 in compensation will be pushing up tombstones befor they ever see the money.