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Some victims still missing as government says all were found

By Mercy Kahenda and Julius Chepkwony | Published Mon, May 14th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 13th 2018 at 22:26 GMT +3
Teresia Njeri during an interview at Solai secondary school in Subukia on May 13, 2018. She lost her 6 year old daughter during the Patel dam tragedy. [Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Some families are yet to trace their kin days after Patel dam in Solai, Nakuru County burst, killing 45 people.

The Government has maintained that 38 people who were reported missing after Wednesday’s tragedy have been accounted for, but by yesterday, some families were yet to trace their loved ones.

Although State officials promised a huge recovery operation, locals have faulted the Government’s decision to scale down the exercise in two villages that were swept by the waters.

Teresia Njeri, who escaped death by a whisker, lost her father Stephen Mbugua, and her six-year-old daughter Mary Wangui is still missing.

Her son, Stephen Mbugua, 12, was rescued by the first team to respond.

Her father’s body was recovered, but she cannot trace her child.

Ms Njeri told The Standard that she had visited Bahati county hospital and Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital where victims of the tragedy were admitted, but there was no information on her daughter.

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Body retrieved

“My daughter is still missing, I have even visited morgues, but she is nowhere,” said Njeri.

Njeri said she was swept at least 50 meters away from her house, but she hang on a pole that had been swept by the waters.

She said the Government should intensify search efforts.

“A lot of people were swept by floods, some were buried in mud, while others were covered by debris of what used to be their houses. It would be fair for the Government to continue with the search,” said Njeri.

“I am mourning my father, but I am confused about my daughter. Every single day I wake up full of hope of having her body retrieved,” she added.

Elizabeth Akiru lost her mother Sarah Namukuru in the tragedy.

Ms Akiru’s four-year-old nephew James Ekemer is missing.

The family visits the local morgue every evening in search of his body.

 

The casual labourer said they had also visited various hospitals but did not find the minor.

“We are mourning my mother. She left us in a very desperate state. It is sad, because she is the one who has always been encouraging us. However, we are also in deep pain, because of my nephew who is yet to be found,” said Akiru.

Her mother’s body was found buried in debris about 30 meters away from their house, and identified at Nakuru county mortuary on Friday.

“My mother was in the house together with the boy when disaster struck. Neighbours say they have not come across information to enable us trace him,” she said. Lokonyang Serikal, 76, lost her daughter Jane Amana, her son-in-law Samuel Nonok and their two children Maxwell and Immaculate.

The bodies of Samuel and Maxwell have been recovered, but those of her daughter and granddaughter are still missing.

“My dear, I am not able to talk, I am mourning. I do not have energy and I am confused after water swept away my daughter’s family,” said the granny.

She is still hopeful that their bodies will be found so that they can be accorded a decent sendoff in accordance with Maasai cultural beliefs.

“Getting information about my daughter will guarantee me peace of mind. I am looking even for a piece of hand that I can bury to appease her spirit,” she said.

Amana says her daughter was a hardworking, loving and responsible woman.

She has urged the Government to intensify the search, adding that it is believed that some victims might be buried by debris or in mud within the 10-kilometre stretch where the water flowed.

Buried in mud

“I spotted bodies of people buried in mud, and it would be better for the Government to enhance the search and not scale it down. We are mourning, and continuing with search will keep us at peace, even if we do not find our loved ones,” she said.

Margret Muthoni was happy to survive the tragedy together with her two children.

The 33-year-old told The Stadnard that despite water flowing at high speed, she was able to rescue her children Mercy Mogure and James Gichuru.

Ms Muthoni said she heard a bang at around 7.40pm, and minutes later water was flowing into their house.

However, during the rescue mission, one of her daughters was injured. She is undergoing treatment at the Rift Valley Provincial General hospital.

“This is horrific. I cannot believe my house and entire property was swept away by the floods. I, however, thank God I am safe,” she said.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said the Government scaled down the search after 40 people who were initially said to be missing by Thursday were accounted for.

“The search is still ongoing, we cannot close it,” said Mr Kinyanjui, dismissing early reports that the search had been called off.

Mr Kinyanjui said interdenominational prayers would be held in Solai on Wednesday.

On Saturday evening, Rift Valley Regional coordinator Mwongo Chimwongo said the major challenge in the search mission was lack of proper identification of victims.

Mr Mwongo said all 40 people who had been reported missing had been found by Saturday evening.

He said the initial figure of those reported missing was 38. Of these, 16 reported at the camp, while bodies of 22 others had positively been identified at the mortuary.

“Everyone has been accounted for, apart from one individual who was said to be missing, but spotted within Nakuru town,” said the coordinator.

Nyakinyua and Energy villages where most of the victims lived were drained. Emotional relatives of the missing people gathered at the rescue centre at Solai Boys Secondary School.

The team that has been conducting the search includes personnel from the Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Red Cross Society, National Youth Service, regular and administration police.


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