Death toll after Mozambique boat disaster rises to 98


Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his “deep condolences” on behalf of the government and people of South Africa to Mozambique’s pres. Filipe Nyusi, Mozambicans and also those who lost loved ones in this weekend’s boat disaster in this neighboring country, testify.

At least 98 people, many of them children, died in the disaster on Sunday.

“As neighbors we are deeply saddened by the tragedy and we wish the authorities and citizens all the best in the recovery effort and the search for the missing.

“We also pray for a speedy recovery for the survivors,” said Ramaphosa.

The chairman of the African Union (AU), Moussa Faki Mahamat, also expressed condolences on X.

The converted fishing boat, with about 130 people on board, got into trouble late Sunday while it was on its way to an island near the province of Nampula. Those on board tried to flee after news of a cholera outbreak caused panic, said Jaime Neto, Nampula’s secretary of state.

Authorities said on Sunday that the ship was believed to have sunk because it was overcrowded and unfit to carry passengers. It was later indicated that the boat took on water and then capsized.

“Water poured into the boat… and then the tragedy happened,” Menque Amade, a crew member who survived the accident, told the national broadcaster TVM.

Silverio Nauaito, the island’s administrator, said six bodies were pulled from the water on Monday.

This brought the death toll to 97 at the time.

Rescue workers rescued 12 survivors and by Monday evening the search continued.

Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries and according to the government, around 15,000 cases of cholera and 32 deaths from the disease have been reported since October. Nampula is the worst affected and is responsible for a third of all cases.

Local residents say health authorities have recently started outreach and prevention programs. However, the increased presence of medics sent residents into a frenzy and many of them fled.

In recent months, large numbers of people fleeing the neighboring province of Cabo Delgado have also arrived in Nampula. A wave of jihadist attacks has forced thousands of people to flee.

“They fled the cholera outbreak. They got into the boat, the sea was rough, the boat capsized and many of them died,” said Abdul Chemuna, a relative of some of the victims.

It was unclear by Monday evening exactly how many people were still missing because at that stage the authorities still could not determine how many people were on board in the first place. TV footage showed people gathering around the red-and-green boat after it was pulled onto the beach.

  • Additional source: AFP