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Swedish diver volunteers to recover bodies of 2 victims

By Philip Mwakio | October 4th 2019

A scuba diver and whale shark expert has volunteered to dive to the bottom of the Likoni Channel to retrieve bodies of two victims.

They drowned last Sunday after their vehicle plunged into the Indian Ocean from a ferry.

Volker Bassen, 51, who celebrated his tenth wedding anniversary to his wife Nimo Njonjo, said he was willing to retrieve bodies of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu from the ocean for free.

Mr Bassen is the founder of the East African Whale Shark Trust.

He is married to Njonjo and the couple has five children.

Training schools

Volker first arrived in Kenya from Sweden more than a decade ago and has to date established several diving training schools in the country.

"A good number of those I trained now work in various dive destinations in Egypt, Maldives, Dubai, Australia and Europe, among others," he said.

He said he would use his resources to compliment the good work the Kenya Navy divers were doing.

"I am lending out a helping hand purely on humanitarian grounds and not asking for anything in return," he added.

Bassen says he has been involved in rescue missions in different countries and is experienced in deepwater diving.

"I have all the equipment required and access to special gases to go that deep. My plan is to attach a rope and a lifting bag, which can be inflated in order to lift the car up to the water surface," he said in an exclusive interview with The Standard at his Diani beach house.

Contacted to recover

He was the diver contacted to recover the body of a Swiss national in 2012 after a helicopter plunged in Lake Michelson.

"I would never attempt such a foolish thing if it was not for my shark shield device. I love deep-sea diving. My heart goes out to this family and I am prepared to do it," he said.

He reiterated that with a team of other divers already on-site with specialised equipment like eco-sounders, it would take them two hours to retrieve the bodies.

Another diver

Bassen, in the company of Ali Khan, another diver, yesterday visited the site of the accident.

He hoped to join the search and salvage team today and deploy his two boats, one of which is equipped with scanners, GPS and eco-sounders.

Bassen said the Mombasa harbour waters and its surroundings were home to bull sharks which can kill but a shark shield would prevent that from happening during the daunting task.

"Bodies of victims decompose fast, particularly in tropical waters," said Bassen.

Bassen said it would not be necessary to halt ferry operations when divers take the deep plunge.

"We shall chance on low spring tide where visibility will be little, with eco-sounders giving us proper images of what is beneath," he said.

"I am truly in love with Kenya," he added.

He said in his sea work, he worked closely with his wife, who is a trained lawyer and marine scientist.


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