Malawi has discovered a mass grave in the north of the country containing the remains of 25 people suspected to be migrants from Ethiopia, police said Wednesday.
“The grave was discovered late on Tuesday, but we cordoned it off and started exhuming today. So far, we have discovered 25 bodies,” police spokesman Peter Kalaya told AFP.
Police were alerted by villagers in the Mzimba area, about 250 kilometers north of the capital, Lilongwe, who stumbled onto the grave while collecting wild honey in a forest.
“We suspect that they were illegal migrants who were being transported to South Africa via Malawi,” he said.
He added that evidence gathered from the site indicated the victims were Ethiopian males ages 25 to 40 years.
The decomposing bodies were exhumed and taken to a morgue for autopsies.
The bodies appear to have been buried “probably not more than a month” ago, he said.
Malawi is a popular route for illegal immigrants from East Africa being smuggled to South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized country and a magnet for poor migrants from elsewhere on the continent.
Kalaya said that between January and September this year, authorities intercepted 221 illegal immigrants, 186 of whom were Ethiopians.