A multi-agency search and rescue team has been dispatched to the Garsen area in Tana Delta Sub County, Tana River County after a boat carrying 20 people including two MPs went missing in the flooded villages.
Interior Cabinet Secretary KIthure Kindiki has confirmed the disappearance, saying that a multi-agency team has been mobilized for a search and rescue mission for at least 18 people reported missing.
The missing people include Garsen MP Ali Guyo Wario and his Galole counterpart Said Buya Hiribae.
“Security agencies have established contact with a passenger in the boat that went missing earlier this evening in the waters of Tana River. All the 18 passengers and crew are so far safe but are stranded at a yet-to-be-established location. A multi-agency search and rescue mission spearheaded by the Kenya Coast Guard is underway overnight,” Kindiki said on his official X handle.
News of their disappearance hit WhatsApp groups in the area with Garsen MP Ali Guyo Wario sharing a video appealing for help.
He was in the company of his Galole counterpart Said Buya Hiribae on a food distribution exercise at villages at the border of the two constituencies at the Mnazini area when they lost track of their way back to Garsen town.
According to Mr Abubakar Shora, an aide of the Garsen MP, the team boarded boats at the Idzoe bridge at 10 am on Saturday and left for a food distribution mission in marooned villages but did not make it back prompting a search.
“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 Mr Shora who joined the Kenya Red Cross team for the rescue operation on Saturday night.
He added that the victim told him that they had left Mlima Obo village at 4.00 pm 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 chopper is on its way from Lamu to help us in the rescue mission,” he added.
Mr Shora said that the network connectivity of the area keeps on fluctuating making it even more difficult to locate the victim.
“It is dark and cold with mosquitos everywhere but we are determined to find them, even if it means spending the night surfing the waters,” he added.
The Kenya Red Cross North Coast Regional Manager Hassan Musa also confirmed the disappearance of the two MPs saying that his team was already in the waters to trace them.
“Two MPs have indeed gone missing. We are on our way to search for them. We shall update you,” he said.
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Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana on his part 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 looks 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 Hon Semi Dumba and Hon 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 at the Mnazini area and as we were going back we got lost in the river. So we are in the middle of the waters, we don't know the directions. We do not know where we are now,” said Wario.