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 on 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 said.
Police were alerted by villagers in the Mzimba area, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of the capital Lilongwe, who stumbled on the grave while collecting wild honey in a forest.
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 industrialised country and a magnet for poor migrants from elsewhere on the continent.
Police often catch trucks transporting migrants passing through the country en route to South Africa, via Mozambique.
Kalaya said that between January and September this year, authorities had intercepted 221 illegal immigrants, 186 of whom were Ethiopians.
Two years ago immigration authorities in neighbouring Mozambique made a grim discovery, finding 64 migrants from Ethiopia dead inside a freight container loaded on a truck.
They were presumed to have died from suffocation. A few survivors were among the group.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) chief in Malawi Nomagugu Ncube said they were still gathering information about the latest incident.