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Nine band members die in Lake Victoria boat tragedy

Nine musicians died after their boat capsized in Lake Victoria on Saturday morning. The boat, which was carrying 14 members of Young Boys Band and two coxswains, was cruising from Lihunda beach to Ndenda Island in Bondo, Siaya County, when the tragic accident happened.

Five members — three men and two women — were rescued in the 9am incident. The dead included seven men and two women.

Mr Philip Odhiambo, a survivor, said they set out for Ndenda Island at around 8am. He said that they had been invited by a bar owner to perform at a concert which was set for Saturday evening.

The band was carrying with them a public address system, speakers, a generator, guitars and drum sets which were destroyed.

“About 50 minutes after our departure from the shore, the boat developed mechanical problems and stopped suddenly. Water started seeping in and slowly it began to sink,” said Mr Odhiambo.

The artiste said when the boat started sinking, some of his colleagues jumped into the water. The team apparently did not have any live saving jackets.

“I panicked when the boat started sinking. My colleagues jumped out and I did not know what to do next. I saw one of our public address speakers floating and I grabbed it and held onto it until help arrived,” said Mr Odhiambo.


He said that the two coxswains were good swimmers and they helped in the rescue. A fisherman who was in another boat also witnessed the incident and quickly called for help.

“It happened so fast and I could not comprehend anything for a second because of shock. It appeared unreal,” said Mr Odhiambo.

Ms Merciline Adhiambo, another survivor, said she clutched onto a jerrycan which they were carrying.

“It’s saddening to lose such close friends. These are people we spend most of our time together and encourage each other on how to eke out a living,” said a distraught Ms Adhiambo.

Lihanda Beach management unit secretary Rashid Odhiambo said it was a sad day for them since no accident of the sort has ever happened in the area.

He said the motorised boat was not carrying excess passengers but the weight of the musical instruments is suspected to have caused it to capsize.

“It was shocking to see nine people die at once. I appeal to the county and the national government to deploy proper rescue machinery to help recover the bodies. We are overwhelmed,” said Mr Odhiambo.