Three students from the University of Nairobi are feared dead after a boat they were in capsized in Lake Victoria in Budalang’i, Busia county, on Saturday, December 31.
According to Budalang’i police boss Isaiah Mose the students were taking a selfie when the tragedy struck on Saturday evening.
Four others were rescued by residents who responded to the scene.
Officers from the Kenya coastguard were called to help in the search for the remaining students but were forced to suspend the operation last night due to bad weather.
“Efforts to recover the bodies were halted due to bad weather and darkness, but a multi-agency team with the help of the Kenya coast guards will resume the search today. Possibilities of survival are minimal,” Mose said on Sunday.
The police boss reveals that the students were on an evangelical mission in Budalang’i.
“They had a crusade which culminated in a baptism event, under the Seventh Day Adventist church,” Mose added.
Apparently, the boat could only accommodate three people at a time and overturned because it was overloaded.
“After completing their mission, they went to the Lake Victoria waters to take photos. In the process, one of them attempted to take a selfie while standing on the boat, making it unstable. That is how the boat capsized.
“The students were taking photos in shifts. Notably, the boat could only accommodate three passengers at a time, but since they wanted to take a group photo they overloaded it. The incident happened about 50 metres offshore,” he added.
Brothers drown in Lake Victoria
The incident comes barely a week after two brothers died after their boat capsized near Sirongo beach in Lake Victoria.
Dedan Omondi Damai aged 22 and Wycliffe Onyango Damai, 21, were on a fishing expedition on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, when their boat capsized due to strong winds.
Julius Odembo, the Chairman of Sika beach, Mageta Island, said the brothers were returning to Sika when the mighty wind started blowing. They were overwhelmed and the strong wind made their boat capsize.
According to a survivor, the tragedy occurred when the helmsman panicked after the boat started leaking prompting one of the occupants to take charge of the vessel but later lost control.
“Efforts to drain water from the vessel proved futile as the boat continued to hold more water that seeped through due to mighty waves. Two of my colleagues drowned on the spot as they could not manage to swim,” he said.
He added: “I told one of them to swim to the shore but he did not know how to swim so he cried for help and as we peddled back, he had drowned”.
Odembo called fishermen to exercise caution while in the lake.
“We have been advising fishermen not to go fishing without putting on life-saving jackets but they have ignored and yet we are trying to save them from dangers like the one that has stricken,” Odembo stated.
The Bondo incident came only two days after a similar incident occurred at a popular Pirates Beach in Mombassa where two people drowned on Christmas Day after their boat capsized.
Mombasa County Police Commander Stephen Matu said the two were among 12 family members who had travelled from Nairobi and had hired a boat for a short trip into the deep seas off the usually crowded public beach in the outskirts of Mombasa city.