Paramedics arrange the recovered bodies of victims of a ferry tragedy in the Indian Ocean waters, at the port of Zanzibar.

Zanzibar, Tanzania - Zanzibari authorities said Monday the number of bodies recovered after a ferry sank last week had risen to 78, with at least 66 others still missing, as a minister resigned over the tragedy.

At least 145 of the 290 passengers on the MV Skagit were rescued when it sank on Wednesday in choppy waters as it crossed from mainland Tanzania to the island of Zanzibar, said the Indian Ocean archipelagos' Vice President, Seif Ali Idi.

Police said last week that there is no hope of the missing passengers being found alive, raising the prospect that as many as 144 passengers may have died.

“So far, 78 bodies have been found from the disaster,” Idi told reporters, adding that two Western tourists were believed to have died, with one unidentified body in the morgue, and another missing feared dead.

Hamad Masoud Hamad, minister for marine transportation, resigned from his position on Monday, an official statement read.

Rescue divers have failed to reach the boat and the dead bodies most recently collected were “found floating by fishermen,” Idi added.

“As the government, we are going to improve on the maritime safety regulations to make sure that all vessels which are operating are acceptable and comply with the regulations,” Idi said.

Zanzibar Police commissioner Musa Ali Musa said that three men, including boat owner Saidi Abdulrahman, captain Mussa Makame and another official from the boat company, were being questioned by police.

In September more than 200 people perished when the MV Spice Islander, which the authorities admitted was overloaded, sank while sailing between two of the main islands in the Zanzibar archipelago. Rescue workers saved 619 passengers. - Sapa-AFP