Malawi Defence Force has beefed up its search team with two more divers to assist in searching for victims of Easter Sunday boat tragedy in Lake Malawi.
The two add on the team of six divers from Chilumba Barracks in Karonga deployed on Monday.
MDF acting spokesperson Wilned Chawinga said in an interview yesterday the two divers have been added to the search team to cover a wider area.
He said it has been established that there were 70 people in the boat. He said 11 are still missing, 54 survived and five died.
According to Chawinga, the search is being done in the hope that either more lives could be rescued or bodies could be recovered.
He said apart from the divers other soldiers have also been deployed to help in the search.
Said Chawinga: “The divers are still there. They are diving in all areas. The exercise is still going on. It was stopped for sometime yesterday [Monday] because of weather conditions, but now the operation is in progress.”
In a separate interview at the close of business yesterday, Rumphi Police station officer James Mpezeni said there were no changes in the death toll and the number of survivors. He said the police still have records of five deaths and 54 survivors.
However, on Monday Rumphi District Hospital told The Nation the number of the dead from the tragedy was six as one person died at the hospital.
About 70 people, mostly Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) Synod of Livingstonia members, boarded what police said was an unseaworthy boat on Sunday on their way back home in parts of Rumphi and Nkhata Bay North along the shores of Lake Malawi in Rumphi district.
Survivors and rescuers said upon arrival at Zunga, the boat, which was overloaded, was hit by a storm, a development that made it difficult for the operator to control the vessel, leading to its capsize.
Five women drowned in the process while 33 managed to swim to the shore.
Community members had initially launched a search for the victims before the police who were later joined by MDF divers came in. The community members used dugout canoes to help rescue the victims and managed to trace nine people, including the five who drowned and were confirmed dead at Mlowe Health Centre.