Toddler dead, 23 people missing after hippo overturns boat in Malawi

A 1-year-old boy died and 23 people were missing on Monday after a hippopotamus struck and overturned a boat traveling on a river in Malawi, authorities have said.

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The boat was filled with villagers who were crossing the Shire River in the country’s Nsanje district, The Guardian reported. The long wooden canoe was carrying 37 people to neighboring Mozambique when it was hit by the hippo, according to The Associated Press.

Officials said that 14 people were able to swim to safety or were rescued by villagers who dived into the nation’s largest river to help, according to the BBC. The toddler who died was the only child in the boat, the news organization reported.

“The search mission to locate the missing individuals is currently under way,” a police spokesperson, Agnes Zalakoma, told The Guardian.

The Shire River is infested with crocodiles and hippos, CNN reported.

“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 told the cable news network.

According to the Discover Wildlife website, hippos are the second largest land animal in Africa; only elephants are bigger. Known to be aggressive, particularly when protecting their young, the animal is responsible for killing approximately 500 people annually in Africa.

According to National Geographic, a grown hippo can snap a canoe with its powerful jaws.

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