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Families mourn kin, friends at Nairobi City Mortuary

By - RAWLINGS OTIENO | Updated Wed, September 25th 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3
Relatives of the Westgate attack victims and hostages address the press outside City Mortuary Tuesday. [PHOTOs: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]


NAIROBI; KENYA: Relatives and friends of those killed in the Westgate terror attack, continued to flock the Nairobi City Mortuary Tuesday in shock and grief.

The bodies are laid out on metal blocks, victims from all walks of life lying side by side amid the stench of death in the mortuary.

Vehicles drove in and out, from shiny black hearses to beat-up minibuses, to fetch the dead.

The smell of decomposition wafted out of the open windows of the unrefrigerated morgue, hitting visitors as they entered the car park.

For many families, the anguished search for loved ones missing since the siege began on Saturday, ended here at the mortuary.

Agnes Mutua could not hold her tears as she came to terms with the loss of her nephew, who she found his body lying at the morgue.

Missing nephew

Agnes and her sister Mary Mureithi had been looking for their nephew since Sunday at various hospitals hoping to find him alive.

Agnes found the body of Christopher Chewa, lying at the mortuary after two days of intense searching to no avail.

“We were going to do counselling when I received a call that my nephew had not been found. We have been looking for him among the living only to find him dead,” said the emotional Agnes.

She said they had been looking everywhere for him and hoped that he was among those who survived the attack, but yesterday, that hope was dashed with the shocking identification.

“We have looked at the bodies lying in there and we have identified him. It’s him,” added Agnes.

She said the late Christopher had been working for a car hire company and on that fateful day.  It is said that he picked up a foreign national to drop off at Village Market but on the way they changed their minds and decided to go to Westgate.

According to Agnes, Chewa dropped his client at the entrance and headed to the rooftop and when he got there, he met the terrorists who killed him instantly.

Terrified shoppers huddled in back hallways and prayed the gunmen lobbing grenades and firing assault rifles inside Nairobi’s top mall would not find them.

Christopher has left behind a two-year-old girl with his wife expecting another child any time.

“This is a young man who was just starting his family. His wife is expecting and can deliver anytime. I loved him so much but now he is no more,” said Agnes.

According to the Mortuary Superintendent Sammy Nyongesa Jacob, 37 bodies from the Westgate Mall attack were brought and so far only six have not been identified.

“We received 37 bodies and if we are given more we will still handle. But I can’t confirm if there are other bodies, in the event that we receive more then we shall confirm,” said Nyongesa.

Other mortuaries

Nyongesa at the same time hinted that the City Mortuary had received the highest number of bodies of the terror attack victims leaving Kenyatta National Hospital with none, Chiromo Mortuary with very few while Kenyatta University Morgue received none.

He said that talks were underway that in the event more bodies were found, they would be directed to other morgues so that the city facility is not overwhelmed.