2024April 2024International News

Ferry Accident in Mozambique Kills Over 100

Catherine Anderson

Staff Writer

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Over 100 people died after a ferry boat sank on April 8 near the northern coast of Mozambique, reports CNN. Most of the boat’s passengers were attempting to flee due to a disinformation-fueled panic about a cholera outbreak, reports The Guardian

According to The Associated Press, the boat, which was actually a converted fishing boat, was carrying approximately 130 passengers. It reportedly capsized on April 7, leading to at least 100 deaths and 11 hospitalizations. Initial reports suggested that the boat was hit by a tidal wave says Reuters

Among the survivors was 47 year old Muaziza Ambaraje, who BBC news reports frequently used the ferry to travel between her birthplace of Lunga and her home in Mozambique Island. She lost 17 of her family members in the accident, which she described as a scene of panic and chaos. She told BBC News that she didn’t recall the boat hitting any rocks or any wood coming loose, but that the boat took on water and people began to jump into the water in a panic. Ambaraje and her family were on their way to visit Mozambique Island’s weekly market to prepare for the celebration of Eid, reports BBC News.

The ferry, which Al Jazeera reports was not authorized to transport people, was on a route between Lunga in the Nampula province to the Island of Mozambique. According to Nampula’s Secretary of State, most on board were fleeing the mainland due to a panic caused by disinformation about a cholera outbreak, reports Al Jazeera.

In its initial explanation, the government claimed that the boat’s passengers were fleeing the mainland in a panic, and that disinformation was being spread maliciously. The disinformation led people to believe that they should go to Mozambique Island to flee an ongoing cholera outbreak, BBC News writes. BBC News also reports that while visiting with mourners, President Filipe Nyusi condemned the “‘bad faith’ spreaders of disinformation who ‘sow fear and terror among the population.”’

Mozambique and other countries in the region of South Africa have been facing cholera outbreaks since last year, Reuters says. Mozambique’s government data has reported more than 15,000 cholera cases resulting in 32 deaths since October, continues Reuters. The Associated Press reports that Nambula, where Lunga is located, is the worst affected Mozambican province, with more than 5,000 cases and 12 deaths. It accounts for approximately a third of the nation’s cases, The Guardian writes. The province has also seen an influx of people fleeing waves of jihadist attacks in Cabo Delgado, which neighbors it to the North, according to the Guardian.

Further, many areas of Mozambique are only accessible via boats, which are frequently overcrowded. One witness of the incident, 44-year-old Momade Issufo, told BBC News that he wants the Mozambique government to build a bridge from the mainland to the island so that people do not have to rely on these dangerous boats. BBC News reports that, by the government’s own admission, thousands of fishing boats, like the one that capsized on April 8, are used as ferries along the country’s 1,708-mile coast. 

BBC News continues that unregulated operators frequently overload these boats to increase their own profits. It also reports that while they don’t typically result in this number of deaths, boat accidents are not uncommon in Mozambique. The incident was followed by three national days of mourning, which came to an end on April 19, writes BBC News. An investigation is underway to find the cause of the accident.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

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