Rescuers carry the bodies of victims from a ferry tragedy near Zanzibar Island at Nungwi Beach September 10, 2011. ( Image: REUTERS/Beatrice Spadacini )
Fishing boats, tour operators and diving instructors spent the night scouring the sea off the coast of Tanzania looking for survivors, many clinging to strewn cargo.
Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina told Reuters 192 bodies had been recovered and 606 passengers rescued from the Indian Ocean so far.
Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Alli Mussa said early on Saturday that more than 500 people were on the ship's manifest. Abdual Said, registrar of Zanzibar's seafaring vessels, said the MV Spice Islander was licensed to carry 600 passengers.
The vessel had been sailing from Zanzibar to Pemba, the two main islands of the Zanzibar archipelago, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania and popular beach destination for tourists.
Pemba is about 40 km from Zanzibar. Passengers who regularly take ferries between the two islands said the vessels are in a poor state and often overcrowded.
Tanzania's worst maritime disaster was in May 1996 on Lake Victoria. The MV Bukoba ferry sank with as many as 1,000 people on board. Only 114 passengers survived and the captain and eight officials were charged with the murders of 615 people.
Two small overloaded boats capsized and were swept away in high seas off Tanzania's coast in January this year. In May 2009 a vessel just off Zanzibar sank with dozens aboard, killing six.