Pier Beach tragedy: Search ends with retrieval of 10th body

KISUMU, Kenya, Sep 23 – A search operation mounted after a boat with 17 passengers and a coxswain capsized off Lake Victoria’s Pier Beach has been called off following the recovery of the tenth body.

The recovery of the tenth body on Thursday evening officially ended efforts to account for missing persons with 8 others having been rescued on Tuesday when the incident was reported.

Homa Bay County Deputy Commissioner Jude Wasonga who confirmed the recovery of all missing persons said he security team in the county will focus on safety awareness to avert similar incidents in future.

“We must bring all stakeholders in the lake together so that we have a discussion on safety in the lake,” said Wasonga.

The boat which was headed to Ndhuru Beach in Mbita capsized barely 400 metres from Pier Beach.

Initial reports singled out overloading as the cause after it emerged the vessel was loaded with building materials in addition to the passengers.

The coxswain, Felix Ouma, who was among those who were rescued, blamed strong winds in the lake for the accident.

“The boat was split into two, I clung onto a drum for sometimes before the rescue team reached out to me,” he said.

Other survivors said the boat was overloaded and intended to discontinue the trip but were persuaded by the boat owner to board.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo appealed to the government to introduce ferries in the lake to alleviate suffering for residents having to commute through the lake.

“I have made this appeal to Presidency Uhuru Kenyatta and I hope it will be looked into,” she said.

Odhiambo also recommended establishments on safety guidelines including a requirement for operators to keep a manifest with details of travelers following confusion over the exact number of passengers on board at the time of the tragedy.

“Lake transport needs to be taken seriously to prevent such tragedies,” the MP said.

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