Le Joola: The African ship disaster that was worse than the Titanic

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A painting of the MV Le Joola

The disaster of the Le Joola is one of the greatest sea tragedies of the modern world.

We all know about The Titanic, the ocean liner that sank in 1912.

The event was so catastrophic that it is regarded as one of the greatest human tragedies of the modern world with many as 1,635 people died.

The story of the Titanic has been so referenced in popular culture that it is regarded as the ultimate sea disaster. What if I told you that there is an African ship disaster that was worse than the Titanic.

 

The MV Le Joola was a roll-on/roll-off ferry owned by the government of Senegal. Named after the people of Southern Senegal, Le Joola went to sea in 1990. It was made in Germany and twice a week it travelled and helped carry female traders who went to Dakar to sell palm oil and mangoes.

 

On September 26, 2002, the Le Joola sailed the seas, unfortunately, it would be its last time. Before its last voyage, the ferry was out of commission for almost a year. It was undergoing repairs.

The Le Joola was plying the route from Ziguinchor to Dakar when it hit a violent storm off the coast of Gambia. At the time the storm hit, the ship had gone farther out to sea.

ALSO READ: Apparently an iceberg did not take down the Titanic

There were approximately 2,000 people on the ship at the time. The Le Joola was built to only take a maximum of 580 people. The storm created the conditions that led to the eventual capsizing of the ferry. According to some reports, everything happened in less than five minutes.

A lot of people survived the capsizing only to drown in the sea. Fishermen from neighbouring towns could only help a few people. Rescue efforts from the government did not come until the next morning. By then a lot of people had drowned.

 

At 3:00 pm, the boat sank into the bottom of the earth. A boy who was rescued near the boat said there were many people who were still trapped in La Joola. Before the ferry sank, there were noises and screams coming from the boat.

64 passengers survived the tragic incident including a pregnant woman.  Approximately 1,863 people died.

 

The disaster of Le Joola is the second worst maritime disaster excluding military maritime losses. The first is the MV Doña Paz in 1987 with a recorded 4,000 lives lost. The third is the Titanic.



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