4 Dead As Boat Ferrying Foreigners Watching Dolphins Capsizes

Among those who died were three women and an eight-year-old child...

4 Dead As Boat Ferrying Foreigners Watching Dolphins Capsizes
Boat that capsized in Lake Victoria in May 2019. /TWITTER

At least four people died on Saturday, January 21 after a boat they were travelling in capsized at Watamu, Kilifi County.

Watamu Beach Management Unit Chairman Vincent Kahindi told the media that the boat that was carrying 29 passengers was hit by strong waves before it sank into the Indian Ocean.

He added that among those who died were three women and an eight-year-old child.

"At the moment we have found three bodies and the one that has not been found is that of the child but we are still searching," stated Kahindi.

Boats during a rescue operation. /TWITTER

Watamu marine national park and reserve warden Dadley Kiluhula weighed in by stating that the boat was carrying 15 foreign tourists and other Kenyans.

They managed to rescue 26 people, out of which, three are still in hospital but are currently in stable condition while the others were treated and discharged.

The bodies of the deceased were found under the boat benches, with authorities suspecting that they got stuck after the boat capsized.

Kiluhula further noted that the boat was among others that were watching dolphins in an area which has never had such an accident. The rescue operation was done by officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Kenya Red Cross.

"Those who were rescued have been taken to Iluru Hospital in Watamu. Others were rushed to Malindi General Hospital," Kawthar Alwy, a Kenya Red Cross official, told the Nation.

One of the survivors had revealed that the ocean was calm and did not show any signs of a storm.

"I saw four or five boats in the distance soon after big turbulence. One capsized and the others were trying to get their occupants he ended up in the sea," one of the survivors narrated.

Beach attendants in Watamu further blamed the government for lacking rescue equipment, including lifeboats for use in emergency situations.

Watamu ward MCA Ibrahim Abdi, who expressed shock at the incident, dispatched a rescue team and equally called on the county government to invest in a swift response team to avoid similar incidents.

“We are going to reach out to our Blue Economy CS Salim Mvurya, Public Service CS Aisha Jumwa, Mombasa Governor so that together we can look for a way to have rescue boats that can respond quickly in future,” he added.

A similar incident occurred on December 26, 2022, whereby a family of Asian origin lost two relatives to a boat capsizing incident at Mombasa’s Jomo Kenyatta Beach, commonly known as Pirate’s Beach. 

Mombasa County Police Commander Stephen Matu, who confirmed the incident, said the two family members, a man and a woman, were among 15 members who had travelled to the Coast for the Christmas festivities.

They had hired a boat which was to transport them in the Indian Ocean on a short trip, just like any other tourist. However, during the trip, the boat capsized, drowning all the family members on board.

Later that day, the government banned swimming and other activities at the beach past 5:30 pm as well as launched a crackdown on unseaworthy boats in an effort to enhance safety at the beach.

Kenyans hit the Jomo Kenyatta public beach in Mombasa, Kenya, during New Year celebrations on January 1, 2013. /PINTEREST