RUMPHI-(MaraviPost) – The Malawi Defence Force (MDF), has withdrawn its team of divers and other soldiers from Mlowe area in the northern district of Rumphi, where they were searching for 10 missing persons from the Easter Sunday boat tragedy.
This means that the ten remaining bodies still missing after a two week-long search in Lake Malawi only yielded one corpse was found in the early days of the exercise.
Both MDF and Rumphi police station spokespersons Wilned Chawinga, and Victor Khamisi, respectively confirmed the withdraw, and said the exercise has yield nothing.
Chawinga said that the withdrawal was for good, since the search had taken long without finding the missing persons.
“I can confirm that our search team permanently left the area; the exercise yielded nothing hence the withdrawal,” Chawinga confirmed.
Khamisi also shared the same sentiments, saying even police officers who were part of the operation, have also been withdrawn from the area.
Paul Kalilombe, Director for response and recovery, added that government saw it important to halt the MDF search operation, after noting that two weeks passed without finding the 10 missing people.
Kalilombe said government believes that the remaining bodies will be recovered in consultation with communities by taking responsibility of handling the bodies, in the event they are found floating on the lake or washed to the shores.
A boat carrying about 70 people capsized on Lake Malawi on April 16 in Rumphi district, that only six persons confirmed dead, 54 survived, and 10 are still missing.
Most victims were members of the Livingstonia CCAP Synod who were returning home from Easter prayers at Mlowe.
Controversy arose when the Livingstonia CCAP Synod General Secretary called the tragedy a “National Disaster.” Government through Paul Kalilombe, Director for response and recovery, reacted by saying the Synod does not have the mandate to name the tragedy as a national disaster; he schooled the Synod that only the government has that mandate.
However other stakeholders were of a different view; for example, MCP President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, himself a former leader of the Assembly of God Church in Malawi.