Survivors say a ship has sunk off mainland Tanzania with about 600 people on board. About 380 people are believed missing.
Survivor Abdullah Saied said today the ferry, M.V. Spice Islanders, was heavily overloaded and sank in an area with heavy currents in deep sea between mainland Tanzania and Pemba Island at about 1am.
The registrar of the ship, Abdullah Mohamed, says 220 people had been rescued. Tanzanian authorities did not yet have an official statement.
Residents crowded the docks of Stone Town on Zanzibar, an island near Pemba, waiting for news.
One man was screaming that he had lost 25 members of his family, including his sisters, his wife and grandsons. He was too upset to give his name. Many of the crowd were crying or screaming.
Seven bodies have washed up so far, said witness Abdirizak Juma.
Many of those present expressed anger that the ship had been allowed to leave port so overloaded and called on government officials to resign.
The green and hilly island of Pemba is often described as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world.