2011 was a year Tourism stakeholders in Lamu will be swift to forget, considering the two abductions from nearby Kiwayu and Manda Island of foreign visitors and the subsequent near total drop of tourist arrivals. While the annual Lamu Festival in November brought back some numbers and reassured locals and visitors alike that the Kenyan government had finally taken their own assurances of providing safety and security seriously and beefed up deployment of troops, foreign media and in particular embassies through their travel advisories remained skeptical and careful in opening up the destination once again.
With the New Year Eves fireworks smoke hardly settled however fresh bad news have come in from Lamu, where last night a boat, reportedly carrying as many as 80 people, has sunk. Many Kenyans had travelled to Lamu for the holiday period, to either visit relatives or else for a vacation and the ferry boat, according to a source in Mombasa, was allegedly substantially overloaded as passengers tried to make it back to the mainland to catch their busses home in time to resume work on the 03rd of January, after the 02nd of January was declared a public holiday in Kenya.
The Kenya Red Cross, the countrys primary private sector emergency and disaster response agency, has also confirmed through their Twitter account @KenyaRedCross that at present some 20 passengers have been recovered from the waters alive while at least 9 bodies have been found. The large number of unaccounted accident victims leaves the question open just how many will have survived by finding a way to shore somewhere in darkness, waiting for daylight to be discovered. The Kenya Red Cross has in the meantime put up an emergency treatment centre in a tent to be able to attend to anyone found alive when rescue operations resume at 5 a.m. local time to be out at sea searching for survivors and bodies when light breaks in the morning.