One person died and two others were rescued after a cargo boat they were travelling in capsized at Wiyoni’s Tusitiri area in Lamu.
The boat was ferrying 60 bags of potatoes from the Mokowe Depot to Lamu Island when the accident occurred.
Lamu’s Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) Vessel Inspector Alexander Munga said on Sunday that the deceased was among the loaders in the ill-fated boat and had been reported missing shortly after the accident occurred.
His body was later recovered within the accident scene after a team of KMA officials, Kenya Coast Guard Services (KCGS) and local divers embarked on an overnight search and recovery mission.
Those who were rescued include the boat coxswain and another loader.
According to Munga, they were yet to undertake investigations to ascertain the exact cause of the accident, but was quick to say that overload, strong winds and rough tides might have contributed.
“The boat was carrying over 60 bags of potatoes and three occupants. It sank. Our divers responded promptly and rescued two of the occupants, while one went missing. We proceeded with the search and recovered the body at around 12.30 am on Sunday,” said Munga.
The KMA official warned sailors against flouting maritime rules, including overloading and over speeding.
“When you overload or speed, you’ll be risking your own life and that of passengers. We are on watch to ensure those breaching maritime regulations are punished,” said Munga.
Mohamed Musa who led the team of local divers in the search and recovery mission advised sailors to avoid using dangerous channels, especially at this period when the Indian Ocean in Lamu is experiencing strong winds and rough tides.
Area Ward Administrator Habib Fani advised sailors to ensure they wear life jackets when aboard any vessel.
“We should avoid overloading and stick to the stated boat or dhow capacity. Sailors should also ensure they wear life jackets for their own good,” said Fani.
The body of the loader was moved to the Lamu King Fahad County Hospital morgue.
Last month four people were injured, one critically after a speeding boat they were travelling in lost control and hit a seawall at the Mokowe Jetty.
The boat christened MV Utawala belongs to the Lamu County Government and was ferrying two-county enforcement officers, a water department staff and the coxswain during the time of the accident.
In February 2020, a woman died after an engine flywheel in the boat she had boarded with six others detached from its shaft and flew around, cutting them. The accident occurred at Tusitiri area along Wiyoni Beach in Lamu Town. Much of Lamu’s transport is by water with the region having a boat population of over 5, 000 vessels.