Maritime Disaster: MV Le Joola
June 21st, 2016 by Piper Smith
MV Le Joola was a Senegalese government-owned ferry that capsized off the coast of Gambia on September 26, 2002. The disaster resulted in the deaths of at least 1,863 people. It was about 1:30 p.m. At the time of voyage the ship was designed to carry approximately 580 passengers. In all, almost 2,000 passengers are believed to have been on board. The last call from the ferry staff broadcast to a maritime security center in Dakar was at 10 p.m. and reported good travel conditions. At around 11 p.m., the ship sailed into a storm off the coast of Gambia. As a result of the rough seas and wind, the ferry quickly capsized, throwing passengers and cargo into the sea. Reports indicate that this happened in less than five minutes. Only one lifeboat was deployed and was able to transport 25 people. Government rescue teams did not arrive at the scene until the morning following the accident, although local fishermen rescued some survivors from the sea several hours before.