At least 94 people killed and 26 missing after ferry sinks off Mozambique coast

Ferry carrying 130 passengers sinks in Nampula as people try to escape cholera crisis

Shweta Sharma
Monday 08 April 2024 06:47 BST
File: Fishermen tend to their boats on shores of Paquitequete neighborhood in Pemba
File: Fishermen tend to their boats on shores of Paquitequete neighborhood in Pemba (AFP via Getty Images)

At least 94 people have died and 26 are missing after an overcrowded makeshift ferry capsizedin northern Mozambique amid panic over a cholera outbreak, officials said.

The ferry carrying around 130 passengers sank off the coast of Nampula province as many panic-stricken passengers tried to escape the cholera outbreak on the mainland while some to attend a fair.

Lourenco Machado, an administrator of the country’s Maritime Transport Institute, informed of an updated death toll on state television on Monday as rescue workers found more bodies.

Nampula’s secretary of state Jaime Neto said casualties include many children while five were rescued.

"Because the boat was overcrowded and unsuited to carry passengers it ended up sinking," Mr Neto said.

A search and rescue operation was launched to find more survivors but the conditions in the sea made the operation difficult.

A graphic video showed dozens of bodies lined up on the beach as family members and relatives mourned their loss.

The vessel was journeying from Lunga to Mozambique Island, situated off the shores of Nampula.

Mr Neto blamed the disinformation surrounding the cholera outbreak as the reason for people taking risky rides.

It comes as Nampula province of southeastern Africa has been worst hit by the cholera outbreak, which has spread across multiple countries in southern Africa since January 2023.

Mozambique has reported around 14,000 confirmed cases and 32 deaths since October, according to government data.

Unicef has said the outbreak is the worst in the last 25 years and expressed alarm over rising cases among children.

"The key drivers are long-term poor water sanitation and hygiene conditions, exacerbated by changing weather patterns, climate change leading to floods and droughts, end-of-year festivities, inadequate community sensitization [and] late care-seeking behaviour for those that are affected,” Dr Paul Ngwakum, the regional health adviser for Unicef said.

The cholera crisis comes at the top of the Islamist insurgency in the country, which has resulted in the displacement of over 780,000 people and claimed the lives of at least 4,000 since its inception seven years ago.

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