Search for missing Lamu fishermen called off

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: A search for the bodies of three fishermen who went missing at sea a week ago after their boat hit a coral reef and capsized at Kiwayu area has been called off after divers failed to locate the bodies.

Divers suspect the bodies could possibly have been washed out of Lamu into Somalia, Yemen or Saudi Arabia.

A total of four fishermen from Kizingitini village in Lamu East were heading to the high seas in Kiwayu and Ndau to fish on Thursday last week when their boat christened ‘Subira’ was overpowered by strong winds and tides before hitting a coral reef and capsized throwing all the occupants into the ocean.

Only one fisherman, Omar Shali survived having swum for endless hours to safety and alerted the Kiwayu Chief before a search for the three commenced.

The search which was being conducted by the county government of Lamu Search and Rescue Team together with divers from the Kenya Maritime Authority-KMA, marine police and local divers was called on Thursday morning.

Lamu deputy governor Abdulhakim Aboud who is a professional diver himself led the search team for the entire seven day period that it lasted.

Speaking in Lamu on Thursday, Aboud said they had to call off the search after it became apparent that the bodies might never be located.

He said by now, the bodies which are expected to be badly decomposed could have either sank deeper or have been washed further into the deep seas where they can’t be found.

“It’s unfortunate that we haven’t found the bodies and have been forced to call off this search. It’s obvious we won’t be finding anybody around here. We have done our best but we suspect the bodies have either sank deeper in the deep seas of having been washed out of Lamu waters into other countries,” said Aboud.

However, fishermen in Lamu have been asked to keep an eye out and report any unidentified bodies they might come across while fishing.

Aboud said the county government had also fuelled small boats which have been tasked with conducting mini patrols on the ocean to see if they can recover anything.

On Monday, families of the three fishermen who have been identified as Athman Ali Gogo, Balali Shali, and Huri Kale Shebwana had wanted the Navy to take part in the search so as to speed up the exercise.

The families felt the search had been taking too long bringing to the fore the possibility that the bodies could either decompose or totally get lost at sea.

The move to call off the search is a blow to the families who wanted to give their loved ones a decent burial and also give them the much-needed closure.