Over 90 people dead after ferry boat sinks

HARARE, ZIMBABWE – A temporary ferry filled beyond capacity capsized off the coast of northern Mozambique, taking the lives of at least 94 people, among them children. The disaster occurred on Sunday, with local media reporting the final count of casualties on Monday.

Silvério Nauaito, the Island of Mozambique administrator, provided the initial death toll of 91 during an interview with state-run Radio Mozambique. By Monday, the number had increased to 94 after recovery efforts revealed three more bodies.

According to Nauaito, the makeshift boat carried 130 passengers when the unfortunate event transpired, leaving approximately 11 survivors who are currently hospitalized. It remains unclear exactly how many are still missing. On Monday, officials were sent to the scene to gather more accurate data on the tragedy.

The temporary ferry operated between Nampula province’s Lunga and the Island of Mozambique. Local online publication, TV Diário Nampula, claimed overcrowding, compounded by a large number of children, as contributing factors leading to the capsize.

Reports by TV Diário Nampula suggested that some people were en route to a local fair when the incident happened. In contrast, others were allegedly fleeing Lunga due to fear of a cholera outbreak, which was affecting the region.

Further reports from other news outlets noted that misinformation about a supposed cholera outbreak might have incited panic amongst locals, leading many to board the fishing vessel turned ferry to escape the area. This recent development aligns with efforts by Mozambican authorities and neighboring Southern African nations to reign in the deadly cholera epidemic that has intensified in recent months.

Given the poor network of roads in many parts of Mozambique, travel by boat is often the only means of transport. This often results in overcrowding on these vessels, with certain regions remaining inaccessible via land or air.