Former ODM candidate for the Lamu East parliamentary seat Shekue Kahale swam for more than eight hours in the sea while trying to rescue 10 members of his family after a boat they were travelling in capsized.
The accident took place at Manda Bruno in Lamu on Sunday.
READ: Family perishes in Lamu boat tragedy – VIDEO
At the same time, the body of one of the passengers was recovered on Thursday. It was that of Mr Kahale’s sister.
This brings to nine the number of bodies found so far. Two more are yet to be found.
The vessel, which was heading to Lamu Island from Kizingitini, was carrying Mr Kahale, his wife, four children, his sister and her three children, his aunt and the coxswain when it capsized around 10am due to rough tides.
Mr Kahale is the lone survivor and was found at Majunguni on Shanga Island on Monday.
Speaking to journalists from his bed at his home in Kizingitini Island on Thursday, Mr Kahale narrated how his four children and three nephews held onto him shortly after the boat capsized.
A weeping Kahale said he made sure the children held onto him as he tried swimming to safety but he watched helplessly as the fatigued children, one by one, released their grasp on him and fell into the deep waters of the Indian Ocean.
Mr Kahale said he and the coxswain, Mr Mohamed Shamti, were the only men in the vessel, while the rest were women and children.
Mr Kahale said he tried to rescue all those on board but was overwhelmed.
He saw them being swept away by the heavy currents.
He said he swam with the children for hours in the hope that they would get help in vain since they were in the middle of the deep seas where boats rarely ply.
Mr Kahale said when it started raining, most of the children were tired and failed to keep holding onto him.
“I have been at sea for years as a fisherman, so I tried having the children hold onto me as I swam to rescue my wife, sister and aunt, which proved difficult due to the weight. I was overwhelmed and could not do much to save them,” he said.
He added: “I later saw some boats in the distance but no matter how loud I tried screaming for help, those on board could not hear me.”
Mr Kahale was eventually found on Shanga Island by a rescue team.
He called on the national and county governments to increase marine patrols, which should go on for 24 hours in a bid to rescue victims of accidents at sea.