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What I Learned – He Survived More Than 40 Hours as Scores Drowned Around Him

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The water kept rising. The air pocket around his head kept shrinking. And nearly two days after his ferry capsized, no one seemed to realize that someone was still alive, trapped in the pitch black of the engine room.

So Augustine Charahani, the engineer, simply waited, helplessly, clinging to a staircase in the capsized vessel, caught between hope and hopelessness.

“I am going to die, but maybe I will be rescued,” he remembered telling himself during the more than 40 torturous hours he survived inside the overturned hull.

He was alone down there. When the ferry capsized on Sept. 20, it was nearing its destination: the small island of Ukara in Tanzania. The ferry — the main link between remote islands in Lake Victoria — was overcrowded, with more than 265 passengers and crew members on board. Many were returning from shopping trips to a larger island about an hour away.

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