Published On: Mon, Apr 8th, 2024

Nampula: Makeshift ferry sinks as 91 die trying to escape cholera crisis | World | News

An overcrowded ferry which sunk when trying to leave Mozambique to escape a deadly cholera outbreak has seen 91 deaths, according to officials. It’s reported 130 passengers were on the makeshift vessel which sank off the coast of Nampula, the third largest city. 

Many children are thought to have died in the incident in which five youngsters were rescued by emergency services. A search and rescue operation has been launched to find survivors but it is thought conditions at sea have made it hard for rescuers.

Nampula’s secretary of state Jaime Neto said: “Because the boat was overcrowded and unsuited to carry passengers it ended up sinking.”

In graphic footage, dozens of bodies could be seen lined up on the beach as family members and relatives mourned their loss.

The boat was travelling from Lunga to Mozambique Island, situated off the shores of Nampula when it got into difficulty.

Mr Neto blamed disinformation surrounding the cholera outbreak saying it had led to people taking risky rides. The Nampula province of southeastern Africa has been worst hit by the cholera outbreak, which has spread across multiple countries in southern Africa since January 2023.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection which can cause profuse watery diarrhoea, vomiting, circulatory collapse and shock.

Many infections are associated with milder diarrhoea or have no symptoms at all, but if it is left untreated between 25% and 50% of severe cholera cases can be fatal as it causes a rapid loss of large amounts of fluids and electrolytes. In the most severe cases the disease can kill in just hours.

The Mozambique government has reported around 14,000 confirmed cases and 32 deaths since October. Unicef says the outbreak is the worst in the last 25 years and expressed alarm over rising cases among children.

Dr Paul Ngwakum, the regional health adviser for Unicef told the Independent: “The key drivers are long-term poor water sanitation and hygiene conditions, exacerbated by changing weather patterns, climate change leading to floods and droughts, end-of-year festivities, inadequate community sensitization and late care-seeking behaviour for those that are affected.”

The cholera crisis follows the Islamist insurgency in the country, which has resulted in the displacement of over 780,000 people and claimed the lives of at least 4,000 since its inception seven years ago.

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