Tanzanian business tycoon Dulle Zubeli on Sunday launched a futile search for passengers of his missing boat, MV Mapeza, in Lake Malawi.
Zubeli’s wooden vessel was en route from Mbamba Bay in Tanzania to Nkhata Bay port with 12 people and 23 tonnes of assorted business merchandise aboard when it sank in the lake on Saturday.
“We are working hard to retrieve the boat and the passengers,” Zubeli said when the five-strong search squad docked at Nkhata Bay.
However, the Sunday morning operation culminated to sights of dozens of Vestline Petroleum Jelly floating almost 20km from the shore, which confirms the tragic ending of both the boat and the passengers, investigators said.
The boatload of travellers last sounded an SOS on Saturday around 3am, outgoing assistant surveyor of vessels for Likoma and Nkhata Bay, Chikumbutso Ziyaya, said.
The marine official suspects the boat sunk following a suspected water pump failure which frustrated efforts to swiftly get rid of the water gushing into the boat amid heavy Mwera, the south-easterly winds that were blowing on the lake.
He said the possibility of a leakage was stronger, but insisted that establishing the cause could take a long time.
Investigators on the five-strong search say cartons of goods from Tanzania were detected in the middle of the continent’s second deepest lake during the operation.
The passengers comprised seven Tanzanians who ply business in Nkhata Bay and four others whose identity remains unknown.
Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of the remains of the passengers who died crying out for help, with the Marine Department failing to intervene on time due to fuel shortage