Five members of the same family drowned in Shire River on Thursday morning after the canoe they were sailing in to cross river in Liwonde was destroyed by a hippopotamus.
Police have confirmed the incident. They said four bodies were retrieved as of Sunday, but that of a four-month old baby was still missing.
Police identified the deceased as Chiyembekezo Sabiti, 34, his wife Lonny, 30, and two children aged 6 and 4. They hailed from Chipumi Village, Traditional Authority Nsamala in Balaka.
Machinga Police spokesperson Amos Tiwone said the incident happened around 9am as the family was crossing the expanse waters of Shire River to visit relations.
“The family of Mr Sabiti were travelling in a family canoe from Sitima Village where they live across the Shire River to Chabwera Village the home of his wife. Upon reaching by the banks, a hippo hit their canoe and they were all thrown into the river,” he said.
Police were tipped off about the incident by a local fisherman, Batumeyo Jonas, who came upon a young girl’s body floating in the river.
Tiwone said the police visited the scene and took the body to Machinga District Hospital.
Later, another report came to the police concerning the missing of the Sabiti family.
Detective Inspector Makolija and a search party went to Chipumi Village where along the river bank they found three bodies identified as Sabiti, Lonny and Julius Sabiti.
All members of the family drowned except their first-born daughter who was already at Chabwera Village on the day of the tragedy.