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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Senegal navy head sacked
Capsized ferry
Many were trapped under the hull of the ferry
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has dismissed the head of the navy in response to last month's ferry disaster in which more than 1,000 people died.

Mr Wade said on Monday evening that he was sacking Colonel Ousseynou Kombo following the completion of investigations into the accident.

The navy was responsible for managing the ferry which was packed to at least twice its capacity when it sank.

The official investigation accused the crew of failing to observe proper safety procedures.

Navy officials initially blamed bad weather for the disaster.

Two government ministers responsible for transport and the armed forces, have already resigned over the disaster.

Expected

The BBC's Mame Less Camara in Dakar says that the dismissal was expected: it had been announced by the Senegalese press on Monday morning.

The day after the tragedy, President Wade had said that those responsible would be punished.

A relative weeps after seeing photos of the dead
All Senegalese were profoundly shocked

Reports submitted to the head of state point to serious breaches by the Senegalese navy and airforce.

The navy's management of the ferry, they say, was loose, the vessel was overloaded with people and freight, and there was negligence and cupidity.

More sanctions

No measures have yet been taken against the airforce, but our correspondent says that many in Senegal now expect the chief of staff of the airforce to resign.

The reports say, among other things, that the airforce does not own any reconnaissance aircraft.

The upturned hull of the Joola
Will people use the promised new ferries?

More sanctions are expected to target radio operators who failed to notice the Joola's prolonged silence when it was in difficulty.

The vessel capsized on 26 September off the coast of Gambia with an official count of 1,034 people on board.

There were only 64 survivors.

Of the 551 corpses recovered so far, fewer than 100 have been identified, the others being too decomposed.

Many bodies are believed to be still trapped inside the overturned ship.

There are plans to try to bring the ship, which is stuck on a sandbank, to shore and turn it into a memorial.


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02 Oct 02 | Africa
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