"But it is obvious that more bodies are trapped in the capsized vessels", he said, adding operations will continue to ensure all bodies are recovered.
Rescue divers stand on top of the capsized MV Nyerere passenger ferry on Ukara Island, Tanzania Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.
Hundreds feared drowned after crammed ferry sinks
Addressing the nation on Friday evening, President John Magufuli said he has information that the captain left the duty of steering the ferry to a person who was not formally trained for the job. Dozens of security forces and volunteers wearing gloves and face masks had resumed work at daybreak after suspending efforts overnight, hauling bodies into wooden boats. Horrified fishermen and other witnesses have expressed fear that more than 200 could have died.
"We have often raised concerns about the poor condition of this ferry, but the government turned a deaf ear", John Mnyika, deputy secretary general of the main opposition party Chadema, said according to the AFP.
He said even the cargo on board exceeded the weight for which the vessel was certified.More news: Huawei’s first 5G smartphone to come with a foldable display
Tanzanian ferries often carry hundreds of passengers and are overcrowded, and there are shifts in weight as passengers move to disembark. Images from the scene showed the ferry's exposed underside not far from shore.
The MV Nyerere, named for the former president who led the East African nation to independence, was travelling between the islands of Ukara and Ukerewe when it sank, according to the government agency in charge of servicing the vessels.
Anxious residents on Friday waited for any word of survivors.More news: China blocks Twitch game-streaming service
One resident, Editha Josephat Magesa, said: "I received a call telling me that I have lost my aunt, father and my younger brother". He recalled how crowded his trip on the aging ferry had been last month: "Most of us were standing up".
With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles), oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
Divers continued their grim search in the waters around the upturned hull watched by anxious crowds gathered just metres away on the shore of Ukara Island, where the ferry had been due to dock when it lurched over and sank on Thursday.More news: Two female mental health patients drown while chained up in police van
The deadliest such accident in recent decades was in May 1996, when around 800 people died after their ferry sank on the way to Mwanza in Tanzania.