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Pain and grief as Meru accident survivors are brought to city

By | July 31st 2011

BY Kennedy Murithi and Patrick muriungi

At the Nairobi Hospital, Chandaria Emergency Unit, anxious faces of parents and relatives met us.

Parents wanted to know their children’s state after they were involved in an accident on Friday, along the Nanyuki-Isiolo road as they were retiring to their hotel after a tour of the region.

In the accident, three pupils died while 69 others and seven teachers were injured when two school buses were involved in an accident at Subuiga area, along the Meru-Nanyuki road in Buuri District.

The accident involving Loreto Convent Msongari Girls Primary School and Kerugoya Boys Secondary School buses occurred at 6pm. Buuri DC Michael Kibet told The Standard On Sunday initial investigations indicated the accident occurred when the Loreto Msongari bus, which was carrying 71 pupils and four teachers crashed and rolled several times after possible break failure.

Casualties of the Meru accident being attended to in hospital. [PICTURE: PATRICK MURIUNGI/STANDARD]

Thirty minutes before official visiting hours at the hospital, the waiting lounge is silent with only loudspeakers calling out for patients.

Some parents pace around the lobby, perhaps trying to think of what awaits them once they are in the wards to see their children.

Other parents sit pensively pondering what could have gone wrong and what could have brought this predicament to the jovial children an a school trip.

At the lounge, a parent sheds tears prompting us to be drawn closer and find out why she could no longer hold her emotions.

Minutes before accident

Ms Eddah Chore, mother of Elizabeth Samoei, a victim of the accident, recalls what her daughter told her as they were leaving for Sarova Shaba Hotel, Saturday night.

"After they were done with a tour of a coffee plantation, at around 4:30pm, Elizabeth called me informing me of their day’s undertakings. When we were done talking, she told me that as soon as she got to the hotel she would also inform me," Chore sobs.

But by 7pm her daughter had not called, and concern quickly grew to anxiety, as Chore tried in vain to contact her daughter’s friends.

"I called Elizabeth a few times, but no one was answering the call. I called her close friends but still there was no answer. I also called one of the teachers with them, but she did not pick up either," Elizabeth’s mother told us.

Without any answered call from all the contacts she had, Chore called the school and she confirmed her fears – her daughter was involved in an accident.

Upon receiving the message, she rushed to the Loreto Convent Msongari, where her girl went to school, to be told what had happened.

Her heart only settled when news of her being well was received.

The Friday night accident claimed the lives of three children, with many others being admitted in various hospitals in Meru. Others were brought to Nairobi for treatment.

When Chore finally spoke to her daughter, she was convinced she was not among the dead, a concern she still had.

"Elizabeth told me how lucky she was to have survived with half of her right hand cut off, while some of her friends died," Chore told us, her pain showing on her face.

When it was time for visitors to see their patients Chore welcomed us to her her daughter’s cubicle to find her sedated.

There was a bandage on her head and blood still oozing from the bandaged stump of her amputated left arm.

Elizabeth had told the nurses that her hand had been trapped under the wreckage of the bus as it tipped.

But with a strong heart, a nurse had informed the mother Elizabeth had accepted her fate and was lucky to be alive.

In a separate incident, a couple yesterday died in a road accident at the notorious Sachang’wan black spot along the Nakuru-Eldoret road.

The two died after driver of a trailer heading the same direction lost control and crashed the small car.

Confirming the deaths, Rift Valley Provincial Traffic Enforcement Officer Mary Omari said the two vehicles were heading to Nakuru town from Eldoret, at a sloppy section of the road.

The lorry’s driver and the turn boy, who were slightly injured, were taken to Rift Valley General Hospital in Nakuru for treatment, while the bodies were moved to Nakuru municipal mortuary.

The wreckages were towed to Salgaa police station.

On Friday, three accidents were also witnessed along the same highway stretch involving two buses ferrying school children to the ongoing national music festivals in Nakuru town and a private car.

In the first incident, a lorry that was descending the sloppy section of the road at Sachang’wan lost control and hit a small car and a school bus, but there was no casualty reported.

Another bus ferrying pupils to Turkana North and South from Nakuru overturned at Eldama Ravine- Eldoret junction.

Forty-five pupils from three different schools were injured during the accident.

And in Kaitui trading centre along the Nakuru-Kericho road, five people were injured, with eight others escaping with minor injuries after a school bus was involved in an accident with a Nissan matatu.

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