Tanzanian police quiz migrants

2012-06-27 11:32

Dar es Salaam - Police in Tanzania were questioning survivors on Wednesday after 42 immigrants were found suffocated to death inside an overcrowded truck, Deputy Interior Minister Pereira Silima said on Wednesday.

Seventy-four other people were inside the truck when it was stopped in central Dodoma province on Tuesday, about 400km west of the capital Dar es Salaam.

"Police and immigration officials are questioning the survivors to establish their identity including names and nationality," Silima told AFP.

Police said the truck driver had fled the vehicle.

Officials believe the migrants were either Ethiopian or Somali and were heading south to Malawi.

"Preliminary reports have it that the immigrants were destined to Malawi," Silima said.

Their likely route took them through Arusha in northern Tanzania towards the southern town of Mbeya and eventually across the border to Malawi, he said.

Last week, the bodies of 47 Ethiopians were recovered from Lake Malawi, which forms much of the border with Tanzania, after their overcrowded boat capsized.

In December, 20 Somali immigrants were found dead in Tanzania.

Police investigating that incident said the victims had died of suffocation before their bodies were abandoned in the bush.

The foreign ministry said at the time that an increasing number of Ethiopians and Somalis were crossing the country to make their way to South Africa, the continent's top economy.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled the lawless Horn of Africa country since the collapse of a formal government two decades ago.