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Rescue efforts underway after three buried alive in landslide

Central
 An excavator tries to clear Matathia Road where 3 men are suspected to be trapped. [George Njunge, Standard]

Three people are feared to have been buried alive by a landslide that struck Matathia village in Kimende area of Lari constituency, Kiambu County.

The victims, whose identities have not yet been confirmed, were reportedly on their way home from work at around 7pm when the landslide occurred. The incident happened a few meters from the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway.

An eyewitness, who was walking a short distance behind the three said the earth suddenly shifted, covering them.

"I saw massive soil moving downhill. I shouted at them to run. They tried to escape but the landslide was too fast, and they got buried," he told The Standard.

The landslide has cut off the village from Kimende, with a huge heap of soil, approximately 20 feet high, covering the area.

Veronica Wambui said she suspected her brother was buried alive.

“My brother was walking home from Kimende when the incident happened. A man who was walking behind them briefed us. We tried calling him to no avail. No help came at night as the risk was too high for the rescue team.

"The first batch of rescuers came this morning (Tuesday), but the soil was too much for one excavator,” Ms Wambui said, adding that she hoped he would be rescued alive.

“This is the worst time as a family as we stand on the soil that has buried our loved ones. We can do nothing but watch and it is breaking our hearts."

Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi arrived at the scene and condoled with the families.

Wamatangi said he expected the military and other rescue teams to help retrieve the bodies and open the road.

“People are buried here, and this road is closed. It is a dangerous road and the people need to be extra vigilant until such a time when the rains stop,” he said.

The governor brought excavators, power saws,  bulldozers and backhoes to be used in the rescue mission.

Sources involved in the rescue mission said it may take one week to clear the soil, which is wet, heavy and packed with boulders.

Sam Mwangi, a resident and bodaboda operator, said that Tuesday morning, there had been a minor landslide which was promptly cleared by a bulldozer.

“At around 3pm, there was another landslide. This one almost buried the bulldozer operator who left the site. What we did not know is that we were being prepared for a major landslide that would bury our neighbours," said Mr Mwangi.

Mwangi said that at about 7pm, they heard loud screams. He rushed to the scene only to be met by moving heap of soil and trees.

Lari MP Mburu Kahangara said the road needs to be redesigned.

“We cannot continue using this road as it is because we shall be courting disaster. We need to see how it can be made better in order to protect life,” Mr Mburu said.

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