Two MPs in Tana River county, who went missing during a rescue mission for residents marooned in parts of the county, have been rescued.
Garsen MP Ali Wario Guyo and his Galole counterpart Said Buya Hiribae, along with 18 others, lost their trail after encountering floods, raising concerns about their whereabouts and safety.
They spent the night stranded in the floods as they struggled to find their way.
Tana River County Commissioner Mohamed Nur Hassan said the two politicians, alongside their aides, were rescued by a multi-agency team yesterday.
The MPs lost direction and spent the chilly night in the waters.
Hassan lauded the efforts of the multi-agency team who spent time searching for the legislators and the 18 others who had boarded boats to trace and assist the marooned families in flooded villages in the Tana Delta sub-county.
"I want to thank the Kenya Red Cross Society officials who were the first to launch the search, as well as several humanitarian organisations for their dedication," Hassan said.
Kenya Red Cross Coast regional manager Hassan Musa said they could not locate the exact place where they found the victims but said it was in the waters around Feji. He said the MPs and the 18 other occupants were found tired, and hungry.
Earlier, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki had said a multi-agency team had been mobilised for a search and rescue mission for the victims. “Security agencies established contact with a passenger in the boat that went missing earlier in the evening in the waters of Tana River," Kindiki had said.
He added that the multi-agency search and rescue mission was spearheaded by the Kenya Coast Guard.
News of their disappearance circulated on WhatsApp groups, with MP Wario sharing a video appealing for help.
The MPs were on a food distribution exercise in villages at the border of the two constituencies in Mnazini when they lost track on their way back to Garsen town.
According to Abubakar Shora, an aide of the Garsen MP, the team boarded boats at Idzoe bridge on Saturday and left for a food distribution mission but did not make it back.
“We saw them off in the morning as they headed to Mlima Obo to distribute food, but they failed to return on time. We initially tried reaching them on phone in vain, but luckily we received a call from one of the passengers saying that they had lost their way back,” said Shora.
He added that the victim told him that they had left Mlima Obo village at 4 p.m. for Garsen, but because of the massive flooding, they lost track of the main river and got lost in the shrubs.
“We are communicating with them, but we can’t locate where they are, and neither can they pinpoint exactly where they are stuck. I have been informed that a military helicopter is on its way from Lamu to help us in the rescue mission,” he added.
Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana said that he had talked to one of the stuck MPs, who said that they could not trace their way back since the whole area looked like a huge lake.
“I have talked to one of the MPs, and he has told me that they are safe but stranded since they can’t trace their way back. They are in the company of two MCAs, including Semi Dumba and Haoddo, and they have also confirmed that it is dark and the waters are seriously hostile,” he said on the phone.
He added that his team was trying to use technology to locate the victims so that they could guide them out.
“We are trying to use technology to locate where they are and see how we can guide them out or reach out to them. It is estimated that they are 22 minutes away from Garsen town at normal speed, hence meaning they can take almost 40 minutes in the current circumstances,” he said.
The rescue mission proved difficult due to the darkness and the shrubby terrain of the area.
A video of Wario appealing for help surfaced, showing part of the stranded people seated on the boat with some clinging to tree branches.
“We are lost; we are in the middle of nowhere. Today we were on a rescue mission in the Mnazini area, and as we were going back, we got lost in the river. So we are in the middle of the water; we don’t know the directions. We do not know where we are now,” said the shaken Wario in his last phone conversation.