A one-year-old infant has died and 23 people are feared dead after a charging hippopotamus capsized their canoe May 15, local police reportedly say.
The hippo struck the canoe as it traveled across the Shire River en route to Mozambique in Africa, capsizing the wooden boat and tossing its occupants into the water, CBS News reported. Malawian police officers and personnel from the World Food Program managed to rescue 13 of the 37 passengers, Nsanje District Police Commissioner Dominic Mwandira said. Authorities located the body of the one-year-old baby while 23 passengers remain missing, Malawi police spokesperson Agnes Zalakoma told CNN.
A 1-year-old died and 23 people were missing and feared dead after a hippopotamus charged into and capsized a canoe on a river in southern Malawi. https://t.co/6WMLNiSEHc
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 17, 2023
The dangers inherent within the river make it perilous to cross and accidents like this are unfortunately common, Zalakoma continued. “It is too dangerous because it (the river) is too shallow and in this river there are crocodiles that most of the time attack people and also hippopotamus that cause incidents like the one we’re dealing with,” Zalakoma said, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Gigantic Hippo Chases A Boat In Kenya In Terrifying Viral Video)
The 23 still missing are feared dead after officials searched for over 24 hours, though efforts to locate them are still ongoing, Zalakoma told CBS.
Malawi’s president Lazarus Chakwera sent Minister of Water and Sanitation Abida Mia to the region in the wake of the tragic incident. Locals expressed their concerns about the hippos to Mia, urging government authorities to move some of the animals to a different area, CBS reported.
Hippos are the deadliest large land animals to humans, according to the BBC. Their territorial and aggressive nature contributes to approximately 500 deaths per year in Africa, the outlet reported in 2016.