VICE-PRESIDENT Guy Scott yesterday visited the scene where 26 people, most of them pupils of Henga Primary School in Gwembe, died on Friday after the boat they were on capsized on Lake Kariba.
Dr Scott arrived at Henga village around mid-morning and was received by Inspector-General of Police Stella Libongani, who led him to a visibly emotional crowd.
As Dr Scott approached the crowd, most of the affected families broke down.
Addressing community members, Dr Scott said the country is sharing the grief with the affected families.
Dr Scott said the loss is too huge for the affected families to bear alone.
“Your loss is our loss, too. Even if we cannot heal your emotions, as Government we will do everything possible to lighten this burden. We will make available coffins, food and all logistical needs,” Dr Scott said.
Koffi Chafuka, 14, a survivor and one of the paddlers of the capsized boat, said the boat capsized because of waves on water caused by strong winds.
“My friend and I were paddling the boat but my friend got tired and relaxed leaving it to me to paddle. At this moment, a strong wave hit the boat and water entered causing panic. At this point, most of the passengers on the boat stood causing the boat to lose balance,” Koffi said.
Another survivor, Green Hamilimo, 16, said the death of most of his friends who were on the boat is difficult to bear.
“I had three close friends on the boat and imagining that they are no more is devastating to me,” he said.
Operations to retrieve the bodies are under way with divers from Zambia Army and Zambia Police leading the search.
Dr Scott was accompanied by his wife, Charlotte, Kabwata member of Parliament Given Lubinda, Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit co-ordinator Patrick Kangwa and Ms Libongani and a team of security personnel.
So far, only a one-year-old child was retrieved on Friday and has since been buried.
Briefing the vice -president, Ms Libongani said the incident happened around 07:30hours on Independence Day as the victims were heading to Kalelezhi, a school across the lake, for golden jubilee celebrations.
Ms Libongani said 34 people were on a 14-seater banana boat.
Of the 34, eight survived aged between six and 16.
And Henga head teacher Bright Milambo said 23 of the deceased were pupils at his school.
“Twenty-three were pupils here and four of these wrote their Grade seven examinations,” Mr Milambo said.
Zambia Daily Mail