Over 100 dead in Mozambique ferry disaster

Mozambique boat disaster kills 96

Over 100 people are understood to have died, with almost 20 still missing, after an overcrowded, makeshift ferry capsized off the coast of Nampula, northern Mozambique.

Officials say the disaster happened after panic broke out after disinformation related to a cholera outbreak spread. The vessel, a converted fishing boat, was carrying around 130 people on Sunday (7 April 2024). It had become crowded with panicked passengers trying to flee the mainland after false rumours spread over an outbreak of the deadly disease. Officials have not released further information about the source of the disinformation.

Appearing on state television on Monday (8 April 2024), Lourenco Machado, an administrator of the Maritime Transport Institute, Instrasmar, said the vessel was an overloaded fishing boat and was not licenced to transport people.

Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, has issued a statement confirming the death toll is now over 100, updating earlier reports that had placed the toll at around 98.

Nampula’s secretary of state Jaime Neto said casualties include many children. “Because the boat was overcrowded and unsuited to carry passengers, it ended up sinking,” Neto said.

Graphic videos broadcast from the scene show bodies being lined up on the beach, as relatives mourned.

The vessel was en route from Lunga to Mozambique Island, off the shores of Nampula, when the disaster occurred.

A search and rescue operation has been launched to find more survivors, but poor sea conditions have reportedly hampered the operation.

Southern Africa has been hit by a devastating cholera outbreak, which took hold in January 2023 and has spread across numerous countries. Figures from the Mozambique government show the country has suffered 15,051 confirmed cases and 32 deaths since October.

Unicef has said the outbreak is the worst in the last 25 years, highlighting a rise in cases among children.

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