Body of Tom Okwach retrieved from Abimbo goldmine in Siaya

Tom Okwach's mother Joyce Achola at Ambimbo goldmine in Siaya county. [File, Standard]

The body of a miner trapped since December 2, 2021, at Abimbo goldmine in Bondo, Siaya County, has been retrieved.

Tom Okwach’s body was retrieved seven months after he and seven others were trapped inside the mine after the walls of the shafts they were digging in collapsed.

Two other miners they were with on that day were able to run out unhurt. Six other gold miners were rescued alive.

"Even though we have not found him alive, it is a relief to the family because we can now plan to give him a decent burial," said the deceased's brother, Fred Ogunde.

Okwach, 25, whose family described him as disciplined and hardworking was eight months old in the mining field.

Speaking to The Standard a month into the search, Okwach's family said they received some help from the government in the initial stages of the rescue.

However, they were plunged into debt as they battled to hire local rescuers after the government abandoned them.

“It is not easy for us as a family. We have tried our best. We will stay at the mine until we find him,” said Okwach’s father, Martin Shikuku.

A message echoed by Okwach’s mother, Ms Ocholla, amid sobs: “I do not know what I ever did to deserve this… I lost my first son years ago and Okwach has always been the breadwinner. I hope I will see him alive once again.”

The miner’s wife Jacklyn Okwach added that the search for her husband had taken a toll on her. “Life has been hard since my husband was trapped. I miss seeing him. I think of him and I get stressed,” said the mother of two.

Jacklyn appealed for help, saying she would wish to see her husband alive or dead.

“This will give us peace as a family. It has not been easy,” said Jacklyn.

[Additional reporting by Isaiah Gwengi and Harold Odhiambo]