Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has lowered flags to half-staff in honor of soldiers who died in a fatal road accident in the northern district of Mzimba as President Peter Mutharika says his government will support bereaved families those officers who are injured.
18 soldiers were confirmed dead by Thursday evening.
The soldiers had just completed their military training in the region and were driving back to a base, the Malawi Armed Forces College (Mafco) in Salima, a central region district some 98.2 kilometers (around 60 miles) from the capital, Lilongwe.
“The vehicle was carrying 35 officers including military instructors,” Malawi Defence Force (MDF) spokesman Maj. Paul Chiphwanya said.
Chiphwanya said the cause of the accident was not yet known but initial reports indicate that the military vehicle plunged into South Rukuru River.
Mutharika, in a statement signed by Chief Secretary to government, Lloyd Muhura extends his condolences.
The statement says the President who is also Commander-In-Chief of MDF and the First Lady Getrude Mutharika are “deeply saddened”.
“The president is assuring the bereaved and affected families that Government will do everything within its means, to support them during this difficult time,” reads part of the statement.
There was panic among relatives of officers across the country to find out the status quo of their loved ones when the news broke.
The relatives had to phone in to the the Defense Force to confirm.
One family which opted for anynomity, we’re relieved when they were told by Defence Force officials that their brother was not in the company that was involved in the accident in the presence of our reporter.
Meanwhile, Mutharika wishes those injured a speedy recovery.