Search continues for missing girls

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Limpho Sello

THE search continues for two ‘Maseribane High School students who are believed to have drowned while swimming in Senqu River on Sunday.

Since Monday, rescue teams have been searching for the missing girl. The two were Form C students aged 15 and 16 and boarders at the Mount Moorosi-based  school.

‘Maseribane High School Principal Dr Ramatla Varkey yesterday said the learners were among 17 students who sneaked out of the school and went for a swim in the flooded river.

“They went there to play and entertain themselves and that’s when this tragic incident occurred. Nobody knew there was this very deep place in the river and they went there at a time Senqu was flowing fast due to the recent rains,” Dr Varkey said.

“It was only after this incident that we realized that our students sometimes go there to swim without the authority of the matron.”

A team of divers from Maseru went to the river on Monday to assist in the search but they still had not recovered the bodies by yesterday.

“We are still looking for them and the local community is also helping in the search. The police also came with their diving rescue team but it’s been extremely difficult to find them because of the rain experienced over the past two days,” Dr Varkey said.

Police spokesperson Clifford Molefe yesterday said the search for the missing girls was continuing.

“Our rescue team went there on Monday to assist with the search for the missing girls,” Senior Inspector Molefe said.

Education and Training Deputy Minister Thabang Kholumo who travelled to Mount Moorosi yesterday told the Lesotho Times he visited the area to find out what really happened.

Mr Kholumo said he had also visited the police station to inquire about the progress of rescue efforts.

“It was very sad when we had to return to our homes knowing that there are children’s bodies stuck in there. The bodies need to be recovered and buried so that the school, parents and community can put this incident behind them and move on,” Mr Kholumo said.

“This issue is very complicated since these girls left the school without permission. We sat down with the 15 girls to ask them what exactly transpired and we also counseled them because they witnessed something very traumatic.

“I also found out that out of the 17 girls, only five girls knew how to swim and the others went there to watch the others swim but they ended up joining them.”

Dr Varkey said the families of the missing girls were in shock after being informed of the incident. She also said the school suspended classes on Monday as a result of the incident.

“As a school, we are still in shock so much that we had to suspend classes for the whole day on Monday. Learning must continue although we are affected by the situation. This is a very painful experience especially for the girls who were together with their missing schoolmates,” she said.

“We talked to them about the situation and the consequences of not following  school regulations because we believe if they hadn’t sneaked out, this would not have happened.”

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