64 Ethiopians found dead in cargo container in Mozambique

The Samora Machel Bridge spanning the Zambezi River at Tete, Mozambique. (Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 24 March 2020

64 Ethiopians found dead in cargo container in Mozambique

  • The victims were discovered in a blue cargo container loaded on a truck
  • Mozambique is generally seen as a smuggling corridor for migrants seeking to make their way to South Africa

MAPUTO: Sixty-four migrants from Ethiopia were found dead on Tuesday, crammed inside a freight container in the northwestern Mozambican province of Tete, a senior hospital official said.
The victims were discovered in a blue cargo container loaded on a truck. They were surrounded by survivors.
Temperatures in Tete currently hover around 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit).
“A truck transporting illegal immigrants from Malawi, suspected to be Ethiopians, was stopped at the Mussacana weight bridge in Tete, and 64 people were found dead. Only 14 survived,” the official, who asked not be named as he did not have the authority to speak to the media, told AFP.
“The cause of death is presumed to be asphyxiation.”
A picture showed a few survivors sitting surrounded by corpses, and another showed hospital workers with white plastic aprons and blue face masks, preparing to offer first aid to survivors and offload the bodies.
The bodies were taken to a local morgue.
Provincial immigration spokesman Amelia Direito told reporters in Tete that all the 78 aboard were Ethiopian men, of whom 64 suffocated to death.
“The truck driver and his assistant (both Mozambicans) have been arrested by the police,” said Direito.
She said the driver told police he had been promised 30,000 meticais (about $500, €460) to transport the men.
Police have launched a manhunt for “the intermediary who facilitated the illegal entry of the Ethiopians into the country,” she said.
The foreign ministry in Addis Ababa said it had “confirmed through the Ethiopian embassy in South Africa that many Ethiopians traveling inside a vehicle from Malawi to Mozambique have died.”
It said it was working to establish the numbers of the dead and their identities.
“The ministry expresses deep sadness at the tragedy and extends a message of strength to the family and friends of the deceased,” it said.
Mozambique is generally seen as a smuggling corridor for migrants seeking to make their way to South Africa.
South Africa — the continent’s most industrialized country — is a magnet for poor migrants not only from neighboring countries such as Lesotho and Zimbabwe, but even nations further afield, such as Ethiopia.


Germany extends distancing rules to end of June

Updated 7 min 38 sec ago

Germany extends distancing rules to end of June

  • Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather in public places but Germans should be in contact with as few people as possible
  • Merkel’s government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some of which wanted to open up entirely

BERLIN: Germany has extended social distancing rules aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic to June 29, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said on Tuesday.
Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather in public places but Germans should be in contact with as few people as possible, according to the rules agreed between the federal government and 16 states.
Merkel’s government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some of which wanted to ditch the measures and open up entirely.
Germany’s virus caseload now tops 179,000 with just over 8,300 deaths — much lower than European counterparts such as Britain, France, Spain and Italy.
“This success is mainly based on the fact that the rules on distance and hygiene have been implemented and respected,” the government and the regions said.
However, officials warned that further restrictions could be imposed if local outbreaks made them necessary.