An overloaded boat carrying about 60 illegal immigrants from Ethiopia capsized in Lake Malawi's wintry waters, and all aboard are feared drowned, Malawi police said yesterday.
Dave Chingwalu, police spokes-woman, said 47 bodies have been recovered, and three suspected Malawian human traffickers had been arrested. The accident happened in the northern Karonga district, 600 kilometres (400 miles) north of Lilongwe, the capital, on Monday night.
Villagers started seeing floating bodies Tuesday morning.
"They pulled out two bodies, then three, then five," Chingwalu said. "They decided to alert the police on Wednesday, and we have so far pulled out 47 people from the lake."
"The boat capsized because it was overloaded," he said. "There were men, women, and children, and goods as well. We believe more bodies are still in the waters."
Immigrants from troubled countries further north often cross the borders between Malawi and Tanzania, and between Malawi and Mozambique, trying to reach South Africa, home to Africa's strongest economy.
Chingwalu said immigrants cross by boat to avoid police roadblocks.