Death toll in Mozambique ferry disaster climbs to 98

A makeshift ferry overcrowded with residents reportedly fleeing a cholera outbreak sank off Mozambique’s northern coast, killing at least 98 people including children, local media said Monday.

The ferry with an estimated 130 people aboard sank Sunday after it departed the southeastern African nation’s coast for the nearby Island of Mozambique and at least 11 people were hospitalized, state-run Radio Mozambique quoted island administrator Silvério Nauaito as saying.

Most of the dead were recovered Sunday, but an additional seven bodies were found Monday, bringing the death toll from 91 to 98, the Noticias newspaper quoted Nauaito as saying.

FERRY ACCIDENT OFF MOZAMBIQUE’S COAST LEAVES MORE THAN 90 DEAD: OFFICIALS

Maritime authorities continued to search for additional survivors, Nauaito told the radio station, adding that “it is not easy to say with precision how many remain missing.” Government officials were heading to the accident site Monday to get more precise information, he said.

The Nampula provincial authority released a statement attributing the sinking to the “use of a vessel unsuitable for transporting passengers and overcrowding,” Radio Mozambique reported.

Mozambican women mourn ferry accident deaths

In this video grab provided by Television of Mozambique, women mourn their relatives in Nampula, Mozambique, Monday, April 8, 2024, after a makeshift ferry overcrowded with residents reportedly fleeing a cholera outbreak sank off Mozambique’s northern coast on Sunday, killing at least 98 people including children.  (Television Mozambique via AP)

Noticias, one of the country’s main and oldest newspapers, said the boat ordinarily was used as a fishing vessel and that residents of the town of Lunga were trying to flee what they believed was a flare-up in cases of cholera that the country has suffered in recent months.

They wanted to reach the Island of Mozambique and departed “in a stampede” using boats “unsuitable for navigation,” the newspaper reported. The boat capsized before it could reach the island.

Some people still managed to reach the island’s shore but died there after not being able to get medical help on time, the newspaper said. The country’s national public broadcaster, Television of Mozambique, said two bodies of children remained uncollected in a morgue.

Authorities in Mozambique and neighboring southern African countries have been trying to contain a deadly cholera outbreak that spread in recent months.

Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, has recorded 32 deaths from about 15,000 cholera cases since late last year. Nampula is the worst affected province with over 5,000 cholera cases, including 12 deaths, according to government data.

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Many areas of Mozambique are only accessible by boats, which are often overcrowded. The country has a poor road network and some areas are unreachable by land or air.

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