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Mozambique: More than 90 killed as overcrowded boat sinks

April 8, 2024

A makeshift ferry with nearly 130 people on board sank off the northern coast of Mozambique. Authorities said some passengers were attending a fair, while others were trying to escape a deadly cholera outbreak.

A view of a beach on Mozambique Island located between the Mozambique Channel and Mossuril Bay which is one of the important tourist destinations in Mozambique, on December 31, 2022
Some of the passengers of the sunken boat were trying to escape a cholera outbreak by traveling to Mozambique IslandImage: Juan Luis Rod/AA/picture alliance

A makeshift ferry capsized and sank off the northern coast of Mozambique Sunday, killing more than 90 people on board, according to several media reports.

Nearly 130 people were on board a vessel used for fishing. Some were traveling to attend a fair while others were trying to escape a cholera outbreak. Many of those on board were children, according to TV Diario Nampula, a local news outlet.

The boat was traveling from Lunga and the Island of Mozambique in Nampula province. 

Mozambique officials say capsized vessel was overcrowded, DW's Dianne Hawker

What authorities in Mozambique said

There were varying reports on the exact death toll. Silverio Nauaito, the administrator of the small island near the northern Nampula province where the disaster occurred, told AFP that the number of deaths had risen to 96 after five more bodies were found.

"It was a small vessel that was transporting 130 passengers. The boat didn't have the capacity to transport these people and it sank," Jaime Neto, secretary of state for the province of Nampula, said.

Neto told media outlets that misinformation about the cholera outbreak caused people to panic and flee.

Several bodies were seen lying on a beach, and some people were carrying the bodies of children, according to videos circulated on social media.

Almost 100 die after makeshift ferry capsizes off Mozambique

Cholera in southern Africa

The southern African nation and its neighbors Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa have recently faced a cholera outbreak. Authorities are working to contain the disease.

According to government figures, there have been 14,877 reported cases of cholera in Mozambique since October, and 32 related deaths. The UN children's agency UNICEF has called it the worst cholera outbreak in the last two decades.

Mozambique lies along the eastern coast of Africa, and has a poor road network. Many regions are only accessible by boats, which tend to be overcrowded.

Zimbabwe battles cholera outbreak

tg/ab (AFP, Reuters, EFE)