26 pupils drown

TWENTY-SIX pupils from Henga Basic School and a villager have drowned on Lake Kariba in Gwembe after the canoe in which they were sailing capsized after it was caught in strong winds.

Both Southern Province Police Commissioner Mary Chikwanda and Gwembe Member of Parliament Brian Tundu confirmed the accident and said the pupils and two teachers were crossing the Zambezi River to go and celebrate Zambia’s 50th independence anniversary on the Zimbabwean side.

Ms Chikwanda said 26 pupils were reported dead after the canoe they hired to cross the lake capsized.

She said the pupils hired two villagers to paddle them across the Zambezi River but that the canoe capsized drowning all but seven including one paddler.

Ms Chikwanda said she had sent police officers to the accident scene to begin the search for the bodies of the pupils.

She said the accident happened yesterday in the morning and that she was waiting for a full report from the officers before she could give a comprehensive statement.

“I can confirm that 26 pupils have drowned on the Zambezi River after a canoe they hired capsized. The pupils from Henga Basic School hired a canoe and had two villagers to paddle them across the river. The police officers have been dispatched to the accident scene and we hope to get a comprehensive report,” Ms Chikwanda said.

And Mr Ntundu said only seven are reported to have survived and that the police have since rushed to the accident scene searching the bodies.

Mr Ntundu said he had just been informed that 26 pupils from Henga Basic School had drowned but could not give details.