By Tiwonge Kampondeni -Mana.
There was a somber mood at Nyungwe Primary School in Karonga on Monday when coffins carrying remains of 24 deceased persons arrived at the school at 9am.
The 24 deceased people, 18 of whom died on spot while seven died at Karonga District Hospital, were supporters of Nyungwe Football Club who were involved in a road accident at Tenenthe Hills in Karonga on Saturday night.
By 10am all the 24 coffins had been lined up and a multitude of people, including Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale, who represented President Dr Lazarus Chakwera had arrived to pay their last respects.
In his remarks, Kawale said the President was deeply saddened by the tragedy and said he wished the surviving victims good health.
“The President shares in the grief of the bereaved families. It is a painful time for the nation; however, we should not lose hope because God is still with us,” Kawale said.
Kawale said the President had given K7.5 million besides giving a directive to Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) to support the families of the deceased through the funeral process with coffins, transport, and a bag of maize.
Speaking on behalf of the bereaved families, Senior Chief Mwirang’ombe said the accident was a big blow to the nation, particularly to the Nyungwe community.
“We are speechless. This is the first time we have experienced something as tragic as this. I would like to thank different stakeholders for their tremendous help from the time the accident happened,” Mwirang’ombe said.
Football Association of Malawi President, Walter Nyamilandu Manda said the tragedy was a big blow to the football fraternity as the lives lost contributed to quality football from the north.
“Amongst the teams from the Northern Region, Nyungwe FC is among those that demonstrate potential to make it big in football. What has happened is devastating indeed,” Nyamilandu said.
Nyungwe FC, which is sponsored by former Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, got involved in an accident on Saturday as the lorry they were traveling in missed the road and hit a road embedment.
Northern Region Water Board, Football Association of Malawi and Sports Council have condoled the bereaved with a total of K11,428,650 which has been divided amongst the bereaved families.
Meanwhile, hospital records show that 26 people have been discharged whilst 75 are still admitted.
Minister of Youth and Sports Uchizi Mkandawire, Speaker of National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara, Deputy Minister of Local Government Richard Chimwendo Banda and Minister of Defence Harry Mkandawire, among others, were other notable figures who attended the funeral.