More than 95 people were killed off Mozambique’s northern coast on Sunday, when the makeshift ferry they were travelling on sank, according to local media.
The boat was carrying 130 people, including many children, who were attempting to make the crossing to Mozambique Island from Lunga in Nampula province.
The vessel was an overloaded fishing boat and was not licenced to transport people, Lourenco Machado, an administrator of the country’s Maritime Transport Institute, said on Monday.
Local online media TV Diário Nampula reported that some of those onboard had been travelling to attend a fair on the island, while others were fleeing a cholera outbreak.
Nampula Secretary of State Jaime Neto was reported as saying that misinformation about an alleged cholera outbreak caused people to panic and board the boat.
Manuel Loforte, from Mozambique’s Maritime Institute, said that the initial death toll of 91 rose to 96 after they recovered three more bodies late on Sunday and another two on Monday.
While rescue efforts continued on Monday, only five of the 130 people onboard have so far been rescued, according to officials.
Some people had been travelling to attend a fair while others were trying to “flee from Lunga to the Island of Mozambique for fear of being contaminated by cholera, which has affected that region in recent days.
Alongside neighbouring countries Zimbabwe and Malawi, Mozambique has in recent months been affected by a deadly cholera outbreak that authorities are battling to contain.
Since October 2023, Mozambique has reported 13,700 confirmed cases and 30 deaths. Nampula province has been one of the worst affected by the outbreak.
The northern province has seen an influx of people fleeing conflict in neighbouring Cabo Delgado province, with the latest wave of violence in February resulting in over 33,000 new arrivals.

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