Rescuers retrieve six bodies from Lake Baringo

The Coast Guard, Red Cross, and local divers engaged in a search and recovery operation for the six people after their boat capsized in Lake Baringo. [ Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of six youths who drowned after their boat capsized in Lake Baringo.

This brings the number of people who died in last Sunday's boat tragedy to seven after at least 16 were rescued immediately the boat capsized after it was hit by strong winds.

Authorities said one body was retrieved on Tuesday after it was found floating on the lake while another one was recovered on Sunday after the accident.

Baringo County Commissioner Stephen Kutwa said the bodies were retrieved between 6 am and 8 am.

“We have called off the search, following the recovery of the bodies,” Kutwa said.

The ill-fated boat was ferrying 23 faithfuls who were heading to a junior Christian fellowship.

Kutwa said the bodies have been removed to Baringo County Hospital mortuary in Kabarnet town where the family members were expected to identify them after post-mortem.

On Monday and Tuesday, the shore of the lake was a beehive of activities as residents, government officials, and local leaders came together to support the affected families in the search. 

All the victims hailed from the Salabani area near Lake Baringo.

Among the deceased are three family members who were faithful at Revival Church.

Francis Kikenyi, a survivor of the accident told The Standard that their journey started on Sunday at around 11 am, only to be cut short when the boat capsized after they had covered half the journey to the Island.

Kikenyi’s three sisters are among the dead. He said the boat started to sway before it got entangled in a fishing net that was in the water.

"When we were halfway, the boat started to sway, and everyone panicked, some of us started screaming, others decided to jump into the water and swim, and a number were left clinging on to the boat,” he said.

“Those who were able to swim removed their clothes and started waving them to attract the attention of people on the island," he said.

Kikenyi noted that first responders managed to rescue 16 people.

Jane Kikenyi, Francis's mother, said her three daughters are among those who died.

The devastated mother of four, three daughters and a son, said her children were Christians who loved the word of God.

Samwel Montorosi, a resident of Salabani, was lucky after his child, a Form Three student, survived the boat tragedy.

"This is very bad news for us. My children are active members of the church. My son was among the survivors. I thank God, and pray for those who lost their loved ones." He said

Montorosi appealed to the national and county governments to support the affected families.

Baringo South MP Charles Kamuren urged the government to train the coxswain operating in the lake to avert accidents in future.

"We need a marine office here, with personnel to come up with a structure that will govern operation at the lake," Kamuren said.