By Matabeleland North Correspondent
VICTORIA FALLS: A swimming expedition ended in tragedy Thursday afternoon after two youthful soccer players here drowned in the Zambezi River and their bodies yet to be recovered.
Police have confirmed the incident.
The incident happened at gorge number six, a distance away downstream from Victoria Falls Hotel’s gorge number four, where several bodies have been retrieved in separate drowning incidents that have occurred over the years.
The bodies of Elson Mathe (24) and Thamsanga Ncube (22) had not been located by Friday evening as police waited for a sub-aqua team from Bulawayo.
The two rising soccer players were attached to Victoria Falls’ Division One side Mosi Rovers. Ncube was loaned to Chicken Inn and then ZPC Hwange last season.
While waiting for the police sub-aqua unit, rafting kayakas had sailed down the river checking for the bodies but found none.
Police had also earlier used a helicopter from a local helipad company to search for the players’ bodies from an aerial view but the search yielded nothing, and the mission expected to continue Saturday morning.
Police said the deceased and their two friends, Lucas Sibanda and Brian Dlamini had gone swimming when tragedy hit.
“Two people are feared to have drowned after they disappeared in water while swimming on the Zambezi River. On 27 August around 2 pm, the victims together with Lucas Sibanda and Brian Dlamini went to Zambezi River gorge number 6 to swim. Around 3.40 pm while they were swimming, a huge wave of water approached and they failed to swim out,” the police said in a statement.
Seeing that their friends had drowned, Sibanda and Dlamini rushed home to inform the deceased’s parents who reported the matter to the police.
The police said the Bulawayo sub-aqua team was expected Saturday to join the rafters on the search mission.
However, because of the nature of the turbulent water in the gorges, the bodies may not be visible until between three and five days. The search party could also be forced to wait for the period until the bodies decompose and release gases for them to float, according to experts.
This is not the first drowning on the Zambezi River although residents continue to go to the place for church vigils and leisure in the resort town.
The Zambezi River is the fourth largest in Africa, the longest east-flowing in the continent and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The river’s most noted feature is Victoria Falls.