Tanzania on Tuesday dispatched three boats with 15 rescuers on board in a bid to find bodies of 11 people feared to have died on Lake Malawi, 50 kilometres away from Nkhata Bay Port on Sunday.
Tanzania High Commissioner to Malawi Victoria Mwangaseke and Nkhata Bay police officer in charge Gedion Nahumu were at Nkhata Bay Port to welcome the rescuers.
Leader of the rescuers conceded it would be tough to retrieve the bodies from the deep waters of Lake Malawi as the vessel is feared to have sunk at Usisya, the 600 metre deep area of the lake when the divers can go as far as 30 metres only.
Owner of the sunk vessel, Dura Zuberi said the crew started making distress calls from 3 am to 4 am on Sunday.
The Malawi government does not have rescue boats on the lake.
One of the two women on board the vessel, which started off from Mbamba Bay in Tanzania in the dawn of Sunday wrote to her husband: “This is my last text to you. All have drowned. I am the last because I was at the top of the vessel (Edited).”
In view of lack of rescue boats on the lake, people in Nkhata Bay have been severely warned against boarding any vessels on Lake Malawi, saying most of them are uncertified and unseaworthy.
This follows the decision by the government to withdraw MV Ilala for maintenance.
Nkhata Bay Police Station public relations officer said marine police have found that people have now resorted to boarding any vessels especially from Nkhata Bay to Likoma or Chizumulu which is endangering their lives.
The government has authorized MV Chilembwe to take over the place of MV Ilala as she goes for maintenance for the next four to five weeks.
“The problem is that MV Chilembwe is very expensive, this is why people are resorting to these unseaworthy vessels. This is dangerous,” he said.
There are strong winds on Lake Malawi this time partly blamed on El Nino powered weather.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :