By Walter Nyamukondiwa
At least one person drowned and another four are feared dead after a boat carrying eight people capsized on Lake Kariba yesterday.
Three of those aboard were immediately rescued as they held onto life jackets and one body was retrieved yesterday afternoon. The search for the missing four remains underway.
The early morning two-hour trip from Nyaodza Fishing Camp to Lake Harvest Harbour in Kariba town had eight people on board with an assortment of baggage, including an unknown quantity of fish.
This is suspected to have contributed to the tragedy as the combined weight of passengers and baggage was above the boat’s carrying capacity.
The boat reportedly started filing with water, resulting in three of the passengers, including two members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), grabbing life jackets and swimming.
The resultant noise and panic was heard by people on a nearby camp.
They used an engine boat which quickened the rescue mission, amid revelation that the three who made it could have also drowned if the boat had not arrived just in time.
The three that were rescued were found just as they were hanging precariously for dear life owing to fatigue, worsened by the strong waves in the lake at the time, said one of the people on the search and rescue mission.
The team comprised the police’s sub aqua unit and members from ZNA Boat Squadron.
As the search intensified in the afternoon, one body of a woman believed to be a fish buyer from Harare had been found, but the other four passengers and the boat had not been found.
Divers reached depths of around 32 metres, but could not find anything by end of day.
If the four are dead, as seems almost certain, it now remains for the bodies to float to the surface.
Preliminary investigations show that the boat was not registered while the coxswain did not have a licence.
The boat is said to have ran into tumultuous waters, stirred by strong winds near Ndomo Fishing Camp, just before 5am.
According to one of the survivors, tragedy struck about an hour into their journey when they encountered a strong wave which hit the boat.
“We took on board people that wanted to go to Kariba town as they pleaded for transport,” said the man identified as Clever Muvengwa and believed to be the owner and driver of the boat.
“I had a journey to Kariba. Everything was okay until we had a strong wave which hit the boat before another resulted in water getting into the boat non-stop.”
A man and his four-year-old son are among those presumed to have drowned along with a third member of the ZNA.
More people could have been rescued if the lake was not closed for the monthly Full Moon shutdown where fishing is prohibited for a week to allow fish to breed. The Herald