ADDIS ABEBA – The authorities in Mozambique have buried the bodies of 64 Ethiopians who died en route to South Africa.
The victims were discovered in a blue cargo container loaded on to a truck and surrounded by 14 survivors. It is suspected that the dead suffocated.
On Thursday, the Ethiopian embassy in South Africa confirmed that they were Ethiopian citizens after authorities in Addis expressed their condolence over their death.
All of the travelers did not have a valid travel document, said the embassy in a statement, adding that it was “able to identify the deceased with the help of the surviving Ethiopians”.
The 14 people that survived the accident are currently getting assistance and support from the Embassy, the Government of Mozambique, IOM in Mozambique.
They will soon be returned to Ethiopia after the necessary travel documents have been secured, according to the statement.
The survivors have also been screened for coronavirus and have tested negative, but had high fevers, according to Mozambican officials.
“As to the 64 illegal Ethiopian citizens, the burial has been held. The bodies were numbered for their identification,” said Amélia Direito, spokesperson for the National Migration Service in Tete, in an interview with the BBC.
Two Mozambican citizens have already been detained in connection with the case.
Mozambique’s Tete province is a popular transit point for victims of human traffickers who aspire to travel to 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 nations further afield, such as Ethiopia.
Image: The lorry was found in Moatize, near this bridge crossing the Zambezi River