Phokera Boat Accident Shocks Govt – 23 Still Missing
The government has expressed its deep sorrow over a tragic marine accident that occurred at the Phokera dock in the area of Senior Chief Mbenje, Nsanje.
The incident, which claimed the life of a child and left 23 others missing, has shocked the nation.
The Water and Sanitation Minister, Abida Sidik Mia, visited the site on Tuesday to meet with the affected families and convey President Lazarus Chakwera's condolences.
Minister Mia assured the families that the president was deeply saddened by the tragedy.
"The president has given me K2 million to be shared amongst the affected families," Mia announced, offering financial support on behalf of President Chakwera.
Furthermore, Minister Mia disclosed that the government is prepared to provide coffins for the affected families once the bodies of their missing relatives have been found.
"The coffins are ready in Blantyre, and we urge anyone who finds their loved ones to report to the authorities so that proper arrangements can be made for their burial," Minister Mia added.
Gladys Ganda, Member of Parliament for Nsanje Lalanje, commended President Chakwera for his heartfelt condolences and empathetic response to the affected individuals.
"This is the third marine accident to occur at this location within two years, and it is by far the most devastating, with the largest number of missing persons," Ganda stated, emphasizing the urgency of addressing the situation.
Ganda highlighted the significance of the Shire River to the local community, where many people engage in agricultural activities, including crossing the river to Mozambique.
The lawmaker also called for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife to consider relocating the hippos, whose population is currently concentrated in the area.
"Previously, a game ranger was dispatched and only managed to kill a hippo," Ganda alleged, suggesting that the presence of hippos poses a potential threat to the safety of those traversing the river.
Dominic Mwandira, the Nsanje District Commissioner, confirmed that a search and rescue operation led by the World Food Programme (WFP) had been underway since the accident occurred.
However, as of Tuesday, none of the 23 missing individuals had been recovered.
"The search and rescue mission is continuing along the Shire River," stated Commissioner Mwandira, affirming the ongoing efforts to locate the missing persons.
The government remains committed to providing support to the affected families and ensuring that necessary measures are taken to prevent similar accidents in the future.
(By Cornelius Lupenga, Africa Brief)
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