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17 people missing after a boat accident in Mchinji

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Seventeen people are missing after a boat they were using sank at Mwelekera on Lusa River in Mchinji when they wanted to cross from one side to the other.

The incident happened on Wednesday when people from Traditional Authorities (TA) Mkanda and Gumba were going to a funeral at Chinyonga village in the area of TA Dambe.

A survivor of the accident Chrissy Govati, from Ngulukira Village TA Gumba speaking on her hospital bed at Kapiri Mission Hospital said the boat which was being rowed across the river started sinking in the middle of the river and all the passengers on board started to drown.

“With the other passengers on board, we began to drown. I struggled to stay afloat even by moving my hands in the water since I cannot swim, and as I grew tired, I could feel my body sinking to the river’s bottom until a well-wisher pulled me out,” said Govati.

Govati on her bed at Kapiri amission Hospital

An account from an eyewitness, Mercy Chechibisa from Chisamba village also from TA Gumba, revealed that the boat sank because it could not take the weight of the 22 people and their belongings.

“The boat is meant to take 10 people but this time it had to take two times its capacity and when some passengers complained about the overloading the owner of the boat brushed off the complaints,” said Chechibisa.

After getting the news about the accident Mchinji District Commissioner Fred Movete and the district civil protection committee (DCPC) rushed to the scene.

According to Movete, 19 of those who were on board the boat were adults and three were children.

“Five people have been rescued and the accident has been reported to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) which has invited the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Marine department from Monkey Bay to help search for the missing people,” said Movete.

The survivors were rushed to Kapiri Mission Clinic and Mkanda Health Centre.

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