Grief has swallowed up Chipumi Village in the area of TA Nsamala in Balaka district after five family members perished in Shire River last Friday.
The five are a husband, his wife and their three children who drowned after a canoe they were sailing in was attacked by a hippopotamus near Mawila in Liwonde.
Four bodies have since been recovered while the fifth, of a four-month old baby, is still missing, according to police.
Machinga Police Spokesperson Amos Tione told Nyasa Times in a telephone interview, the accident occurred around 6.00am as the five were crossing the river by canoe heading for their garden.
The police publicist identified the five as Chiyembekezo Sadiki, 34, (husband) and his 30-year-old wife Lone Julius Sadiki. The children are six-year-old Wisikesi Sadiki, Jamil Sadiki, 4, and a four-month-old baby.
“While in the middle of the river, the family met a hippo which hit and wrecked their canoe resulting in all of them falling in the water,” he explained.
Tione said the incident was reported to police by the man’s brother, Charles Dambuleni, after Jamil’s body was found floating on the waters.
“Jamil’s body was the first to be pulled from the waters on Friday morning while the other three were discovered later in the day. But we have intensified search for the baby’s body,” he said.
The police spokesperson said they were saddened with the accident and warned villagers who usually cross Shire to their gardens on the other side of the river to be watchful before and while sailing.