10 April 2018

Mozambique: One Dead, Five Missing As Boat Capsizes in Tete

Maputo — One person died and a further five are reported missing after a boat transporting 11 people overturned on Friday on Cahora Bassa lake, in the western Mozambican province of Tete.

The spokesperson for the Tete provincial police command, Lurdes Ferreira, told a press conference in Tete city on Monday that five people were rescued from the shipwreck. The lifeless body of a woman was recovered, and the other five who were on board are still missing,

The missing are a one year old child, a woman, a school student and two agents of the Lake and River Police Unit.

The boat was overloaded, since it only had the capacity to carry eight people - which raises the question of why the members of the Lake and River Police allowed it to set sail on Friday from its starting point in Zumbo district. It was heading for Magoe, on the south bank of the lake.

The overloading, plus bad weather on the lake on Friday, are believed to have caused the boat to sink.

Recently Transport Minister Carlos Mesqjuita has expressed concern at the large number of fatal accidents in Mozambican waters, both off the country's coast and on its rivers and lakes.

At a meeting of the National Maritime Institute on 2 April, Mesquita said that in 2017 55 boats sank in Mozambican waters, causing the deaths of 155 people, while a further 77 passengers and crew members are still listed as missing.

This was a slight improvement on 2016, when 64 boats sank, causing 208 deaths, with a further 20 people listed as missing.

At the meeting Mesquita launched an appeal “for a vigorous struggle against all practices that endanger the safety of people and property at sea, and on lakes and rivers”.

The maritime authorities, the Minister continued, “need to work together to improve the protection of human lives. Vessels which do not meet the conditions to safely transport people and goods must be withdrawn from circulation. We must be implacable in enforcing maritime safety”.

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