Maputo — The number of confirmed deaths from the sinking of a Mozambican passenger boat on the Zambezi river last Wednesday has risen to17, according to a report on the independent television station STV.
The boat had been travelling from Chinde, in Zambezia province, near the mouth of the river, to the town of Marromeu, in Sofala, on the opposite bank.
According to the Chinde district administration, when it sank the boat was carrying 52 people. 34 of them survived, and 17 bodies have been recovered, leaving one person unaccounted for.
The Transport Ministry has promised an investigation into the causes of the tragedy. But since the maximum number of people the boat could safely transport was 35, it seems clear that overcrowding was one of the reasons for the disaster.
Furthermore, the boat was not carrying basic safety equipment, such as life jackets. STV noted that, despite the sinking, other boats plying the Zambezi are continuing to operate without life jackets.
The boat is also thought to have struck a floating tree trunk, which gashed a hole in its hull. Near the mouth of the Zambezi there are strong currents, and the river sweeps all manner of detritus, including fallen tree trunks out to sea.