Thirty tourists escaped death narrowly after the boat they were riding in capsized off the Kenyatta Public Beach in Mombasa on Christmas Day.
Swift action by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers, Marine Police and fishermen saved them.
According to KWS senior warden Arthur Tuda and Marine Police officers who were involved in the rescue operation, the boat that has a capacity of only 15 passengers was carrying 30 people at the time of the accident.
“The boat started capsizing about two nautical miles from the beach due to overloading. Many of the operators here flout marine regulations,” Mr Tuda said.
The boat had been hired by the tourists to be taken to Marine Park for a sea excursion.
He said the boat, MV Mullah, has now been banned from operating along the Kenyan coastline until it is issued with a clearance licence by the Kenya Maritime Authority.
“We combined forces with KWS officers and local fishermen who were sailing around here and rushed to the scene.
“Fortunately, we managed to pull all of them out of water and brought them to the shore safely,” a marine police officer said.
The incident caused panic among the sea goers who watched from a safe distance as the rescue mission which took about one hour from 1pm to 2pm went on.
Meanwhile, thousands of revellers jammed the Kenyatta Public Beach to enjoy a swim and make merry on Sunday.
According to police, the crowd of more than 10,000 people was the biggest in several years. Security was tight and people praised the police for a job well done.
Threats of an attack
From about five kilometres to the Pirates junction to the beach along the Mombasa-Malindi highway, police kept vigil and directed vehicles to avoid traffic jam.
At the entrance, there were two road blocks and only a limited number of cars were allowed into the beach area.
A marine police patrol boat, two rubber dinghies manned by police, uniformed and plain-clothes police officers on foot, community policing members and a police chopper kept vigil on the entire beach area.
Provincial police boss Aggrey Adoli said security had been beefed up following threats of an attack by Al-Shabaab.