New details emerge on Lamu boat accident

Rescuers search for bodies after boat capsized in Lamu in June,2017.A search for fishermen who went missing after their boat capsized last week has been called off PHOTO: FILE.

Lamu, KENYA: Emerging details indicate that the fishing boat that capsized in the Indian Ocean in Lamu five days ago actually hit a coral reef in the middle of the sea and split into two before throwing all the four occupants into the Ocean.

It has also been established that all the four occupants of the ill-fated boat did not have their life jackets on.

One fisherman survived having had to swim for hours before reaching the mainland where he reported the matter to the authorities after which a search was mounted.

Three men who went missing since the accident are yet to be found five days on.

The four were on their usual fishing spree last Thursday before they met the unfortunate accident.

The head of the search operation who is also the Lamu count Transport Manager Hajji Mahmoud said no single body had been recovered.

Speaking on Monday, Mahmoud said the fact they didn’t wear their life jackets could have made it hard for them to swim for the long tedious hours towards safety.

He asked all those boarding marine vessels to equip themselves with buoyancy aids like floatable rings, life jackets, and waterproof phone bags to assist during accidents.

“If you are armed with the necessary regalia, you can be able to help yourself whenever accidents occur. Buoyancy rings can help you stay afloat for as long as possible and can also be held onto by several people at the same time. We need to start investing in self-aids,” said Mahmoud.

He said the search was adversely being hindered by the rough tides normally witnessed at the scene of the accident in Kiwayu area.

Those missing have been identified as Athman Ali Gogo, Balali Shali, and Huri Kale Shebwana.

Mahmoud said a search team led by the Lamu County Government Search and Rescue Department in coordination with officers from the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Marine Police and local divers were concentrating their search and recovery efforts on the Kiwayu deep and open seas.

He, however, said they are narrowing down on ruling down the possibility of rescuing anyone alive and that were now focusing more on recovering the three bodies.

“Unfortunately the possibility of finding anyone alive at sea dwindles with each passing day and as much as we want to still hope that somehow they are still alive somewhere, technically we are just searching for the bodies,”he said.

In the meantime families of the three fishermen now want the services of the Kenya Navy special unit incorporated in the search for the bodies of their kinsmen.

The current search operation is being conducted by the Lamu County Government search and rescue team in coordination with the Kenya Maritime Authority, marine police and local divers.

Speaking in Lamu town on Monday, the families said they were worried that the bodies could decompose or even get lost permanently if the search isn’t intensified to find them.

Omar Bwana, whose brother is among those missing said they are worried that they might to get to give their loved ones a decent burial if the bodies are never recovered.

Bwana, however, said they had not lost all hope that their kin could still be alive somewhere.

“In as much much as know that after all these days, chances of them being alive are slim,we still haven’t given up hope that they are still alive. We, however, that can only be possible if the search is intensified to more than what is being done now. We want the navy to come in, we don’t even understand why they were not part of the exercise from the word go.If they are dead, we would lie their bodies found so we can bury them and they can rest,” said Bwana.