Overcrowded Ferry Capsizes in Mozambique, Killing Over 90

A boat has capsized in Mozambique, killing at least 90 people. Rescuers searched for survivors after the converted fishing vessel, carrying over 130 people, sank near the island of Nampala. Officials said most of the victims were children, and Nampula’s secretary of state, Jaime Neto, added that the boat was unsafely overcrowded. Mr. Neto furthermore noted that the victims were attempting to flee the country’s mainland thanks to an outbreak of cholera there.

Images and videos posted to social media show small boat operators taking bodies from the water and dead people lined up on local beaches. Social media users allege that “misinformation” about a cholera outbreak prompted people to flee the mainland, causing chaos and panic and leading to the departure of overcrowded boats.

Nevertheless, UNICEF reports the largest outbreak of the disease in Mozambique for 25 years. Reports of cholera began in September 2022, with more than 43,000 cases noted in the months leading up to January 2023. Numbers rose again toward the end of last year and peaked in the Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces in January 2024.

Cholera outbreaks are common in the southeast African nation and prompted violent protests and widespread unrest last year. The World Health Organization (WHO) blamed “misinformation” for sparking the violence that left several people dead.

In one incident, four people died when rioters attacked the homes of local officials, accusing them of implementing policies that help cholera spread. A man was surrounded and murdered by a crowd in the town of Gurue after they heard rumors he was knowingly spreading the disease.

Cholera is an infectious and often fatal bacterial condition that is typically contracted from unsanitary water. Its symptoms include severe diarrhea, which can lead to fatal dehydration. The World Health Organization states that there are up to 4 million worldwide cases annually and more than 140,000 fatalities.

The WHO believes that economic development and access to sanitary water supplies are the only effective way to tackle cholera.