Authorities in Mozambique have discovered 64 dead bodies at the back of a lorry in a shipping container that crossed into the country from Malawi. The Mozambican immigration officers say the dead are believed to be Ethiopian migrants who suffocated along the journey.
Authorities have apprehended two people including the driver who might have connections to the death of the stowaways. Concerned officials say the migrants were on a well-known trafficking route to South Africa.
When the container was opened, and the vehicle was inspected 14 migrants were found alive. The bodies were found during a weight control operation in Mussacama, in the Moatize district.
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According to Carla Mosse, Tete provincial director of health, the container truck was stopped in the town of Moatize by the immigration service.
“Two people, including the vehicle’s driver, have been detained in connection with the deaths of the migrants who were on a well-known trafficking route to South Africa in search of greener pastures,” she said.
Investigations have been launched into the incident to further ascertain the cause of death. She, however, speculated that the cause of death could be asphyxiation.
Amélia Direito, spokesperson for the National Migration Service in Tete, said the driver, a native of Beira, was hesitant to stop the vehicle when authorities asked him to pull over because it had entered Mozambique illegally in the first place.
Mosse further explained that her colleagues heard noises from the truck and had a strong inclination that migrants could be inside and forced the police to open the container.
“This is a worrying situation. We are continuing to tighten the control of the border,” she said referring to the trafficking of migrants.
The Portuguese newspaper Observador said some of the 14 survivors were hitting the container and screaming. According to Danilson Goncalves, head of public health in Tete, a team of medical examiners would perform autopsies on them to figure out the exact cause of death.
As the world is still battling with COVID-19, all the 14 survivors will be tested for the virus, stated officials.