Steve's Marine Disaster Pages


1,863 people died in September 2002 on a senegalese ferry, "LE JOOLA" of the west coast of Africa - more than three times the number of passengers legally permitted on the vessel.

The ferry was sailing between the southern Senegal city of Ziguinchor and the capital, Dakar, in the north. Many of the poorer passengers had no tickets and were packed on board with no record of exact numbers. Thirty Europeans, including some French nationals, were among those who died. There were only 64 survivors.
A report published 2 months later concluded that the accident had been caused by overloading and negligence on the part of the boat's operators, the Senegalese navy and rescue services.

According to a diver who took part in the rescue efforts, the Joola was 35 km off the Gambian coast when it capsized but it was about 11 hours away from the coast - it was only permitted to be a maximum of 6 hours away from the coast, and was licenced to carry no more than 535 passengers.

It is thought to be the second worst passenger vessel loss of all time (the worst being the DONA PAZ in the Philippines in 1987 with over 4,000 lost), and worse than the TITANIC in 1912 (with 1,563 lost).

The JOOLA before the accident (left) and the usual mad scramble to get on board (above).


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