Mayhem on the road as dozens caught up in Naivasha fire tragedy

Members of the public view the wreck of some of the vehicles which were burnt after an accident involving a tanker and over ten cars along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. Over thirty people including police officers died in the accident (Photo: By Antony Gitonga)

Naivasha, Kenya: Thirty nine people died and scores of others were seriously injured following a multiple road accident along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

The accident that left over ten vehicles on fire occurred at Laini trading center about 10kms from Naivasha town and paralysed transport along the busy highway.

A lorry carrying petroleum goods from Mombasa to Kampala in Uganda rammed into the vehicles before bursting into flames.

Tens of motorists heading to Nairobi were caught up in the Saturday evening incident with majority of them burnt beyond recognition.

Among those who were killed were 11 GSU officers whose car was hit by the speeding lorry.

“The fatalities included 11 officers from the General Service Unit (GSU) who provide VIP protection, including to His Excellency the President,” read a statement by State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu. 

There was a moment of panic as security personnel moved in to contain the situation and recover all the guns that the GSU officers were carrying.

For over three hours, the road was rendered impassable as fire fighters from Naivasha sub-county officers moved in to contain the fire.

Mangled wrecks some on fire and with bodies trapped inside were spread along the highway as relatives and members of the public tried to come to terms with the incident.

Emotions ran high as those affected including senior government offices moved to the scene with a view of assisting or helping those involved.

A witness James Kimani blamed the recently erected speed bumps for the accident noting that there were no signs to warn motorists.

Kimani said that the lorry which was going downhill hit the bumps before losing control and ramming into the oncoming vehicles.

"There was heavy traffic on the road at the time and the lorry on hitting the others vehicles burst into flames trapping the victims and burning them," he said.

He added that the fire spread to the others vehicles which included a Nissan matatu and the police car killing over thirty and seriously injuring others.

A relative only identified as Simon wept uncontrollably as he narrated how he lost his mother, wife and brother in the tragedy.

"We were on our way to Nairobi from Subukia when a lorry hit us head on before bursting into flames and I was thrown out and watched as they were burnt to death," he said.

Speaking at the scene, Nakuru county health chief officer Dr. Samuel Mwaura said that all the injured were referred to KNH for specialized treatment.

Mwaura said that the Naivasha mortuary had recorded over thirty bodies adding that majority of them were burnt beyond recognition.

"Despite the ongoing strike by the doctors we managed to raise enough personnel and attend to the injured before they were transferred to KNH," he said.

A senior police officer said that the death toll could rise as some people were still trapped in the burning wrecks.

The officer said that ten vehicles and scores of people had been completely burnt after the bizarre incident at the renowned black spot.

"At the moment we are keen on reopening the highway as we seek more information into this incident which has left over thirty people dead," he said.