By Kalume Kazungu
The search for the two crew members who were reported missing after a cargo dhow they were travelling in from Lamu’s Mokowe Jetty to Pate Island capsized in Lamu East has entered day two.
The two were among four sailors who were transporting building materials to the far-flung Island when their dhow capsized on Sunday at Mlango wa Pate, just metres past the infamous Manda-Bruno channel.
Their two other colleagues were rescued shortly after the incident happened at around 10am Sunday.
The cargo dhow is suspected to have been overloaded when it capsized.
Speaking to the Nation on Monday, Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said a team of divers from the Kenya Marine Police, Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) and local divers had already been dispatched to the scene to continue with the search for the missing sailors.
Mr Kanyiri said the search mission had to be called off on Sunday evening due to darkness and strong winds and tides that were being experienced in the Indian Ocean at the time.
He said the search team is currently concentrating on the Mlango wa Pate channel.
But he added that the search mission could also be extended to Manda Bruno areas.
The Manda Bruno and Mlango wa Pate are among renowned dangerous channels in Lamu County.
The channels are characterised by heavy currents and on most occasions.
“We had to call off the search and rescue mission on Sunday evening due to darkness. The area is also experiencing strong winds and high tides which are hindering the general search operations. So far no single body has been recovered but we have dispatched the team again this morning to proceed with the search for the missing sailors. I appeal for patience from members of the public as the operation continues,” said Mr Kanyiri.
DISASTER RESPONSE UNIT
Meanwhile, residents of Lamu, particularly fishermen and sailors, have appealed to the national and county governments to establish a rapid marine disaster response unit that will enable timely response whenever marine mishaps occur in the Indian Ocean waters.
The sea users say on many occasions, they are left to struggle on their own to remain alive whenever they encounter accidents at sea while many others end up dying.
“We need a strong rapid response team that will patrol the Lamu Indian Ocean for 24 hours. When we have a team like that on standby, especially in those areas known for gigantic waves and tides like Manda Bruno, Mlango wa Tanu, Mlango wa Kipungani, Mlango wa Shella, Mlango wa Bomani, Mlango wa Pate, the Mkanda channels and other renowned dangerous channels, cases of deaths due to marine accidents will reduce,” said Lamu Boat Operators Association Chairman Hassan Awadh.