Eleven people are feared to have died when a boat travelling from Lamu capsized in the Indian Ocean Sunday.
However, Lamu East ODM candidate in last week’s election Shekue Kahale survived the accident and is recuperating in hospital.
The bodies of seven people who died were Monday recovered while a search was still on for four other people who were in the boat when the accident happened. The bodies were found at Manda Bruno.
Mr Kahale and his 10 relatives and the boat’s coxswain were in the boat when it capsized shortly after 10am but he managed to swim to safety due to his fishing skills.
Among the bodies recovered were recovered were that of 50-year-old Mohamed Shamti who was the coxswain, Mr Kahale’s wife, all his four children and his sister.
Mr Kahale and his family were heading to Manda airport to catch a flight to Mombasa when their boat capsized between 10am and 12pm around Manda Bruno.
Lamu’s Operation Linda Boni Director Joseph Kanyiri said the boat left Kizingitini village at around 9am and was last spotted at Mtangawanda Jetty at around 10am before it was reported missing.
The boat was expected to arrive at Manda but did not, something that raised concerns.
Mr Kahale was found alive at Majunguni in Shanga Island Monday morning and was rushed to Kizingitini Dispensary for treatment before he was later referred to King Fahad County Hospital in Lamu Island.
Mr Kanyiri said a search and rescue team was on the ground making efforts to recover the remaining occupants of the ill-fated boat whose whereabouts are still unknown.
“So far six bodies have been recovered at Manda Bruno. Mr Kahale was, however, found alive and has already been rushed to the King Fahad County Hospital.
“We suspect the number of fatalities might rise as time goes by. Rescue mission by our teams is still on and we call for patience on the part of members of the public,” said Mr Kanyiri.
Mr Kanyiri also said two water buckets, a fuel tank and a fuel pump suspected to belong to the ill-fated boat were also found at the scene of the accident.
He also said search efforts were being hindered by high tides.
Manda Bruno is known for heavy currents and on most occasions, travellers going past the area have to wait until the tides are low or postpone their journeys until the tides subside.
Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo said the search for the missing peope was being conducted by several agencies including the Kenya Police Service, the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) and the county rescue team.
He said marine police and the Kenya Navy were also doing sea patrols.
He also said the number of casualties in the accident was expected to rise since it is believed many of the passengers either did not have their life jackets on or did not wear them well.
Mr Ali Awadh who is the Shanga Beach Management Unit (BMU) chairman said Mr Kahale’s wife, all his four children, his sister and their three children plus Kahale’s aunt all perished in the boat accident.
“I am at the scene. So far we have recovered six bodies and we are ferrying them to Kizingitini. All the ten members perished. It’s only Kahale whom we found alive at Majunguni in Shanga this morning,” said Mr Awadh.
He added: “We found him alive but weak and fatigued. He doesn’t speak. He still had his life jacket on and was pacing up and down on the lonely island when we spotted him at around 7am. He is still unable to speak or comprehend what happened. We rushed him to Kizingitini dispensary for treatment and post-trauma counselling.”
Mr Kahale emerged second in the Lamu East parliamentary race in the just-concluded General Election which was won by incumbent MP Sharif Athman Ali of Jubilee Party.
The boat accident comes barely two months after 10 people died when a dhow carrying 25 passengers and their luggage capsized at the Mkanda Channel on June 20, 2017.
The dhow was travelling from Lamu Island heading to Ndau Village in Lamu East when it capsized due to rough tides.
Kanyiri says search efforts being hindered by high tides at Manda Bruno.