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Victims of landslide in West Pokot in dire need four days after disaster

By Stephen Rutto and Irishreel Shanzu | November 28th 2019 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Residents assist in carrying people and goods across the Weiwei river in West Pokot County. Weiwei bridge was damaged by floods. Sebit bridge was also washed away cutting off transport between Kitale and Lodwar. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

Residents of Muino village, one of the areas hardest hit by landslides in West Pokot, are still waiting for help four days after the disaster.

Pokot Central Deputy County Commissioner Simiyu Were said out of the 22 people swept away in the wee hours of Saturday, only 12 bodies had been recovered.

No food supplies or humanitarian aid have reached the village located about 150 kilometres from Kapenguria and which neighbours Turkana County.

Aid efforts have been hampered after River Weiwei, which traverses through Sigor Constituency, swept away five bridges and paralysed transport.

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At least three Red Cross Society vehicles were scheduled to deliver non-food items to the affected families.

Governor John Lonyangapuo said the number of those killed by the landslide and floods had reached 53, adding that more deaths were being reported in remote villages.

Lonyangapuo warned that they were staring at a humanitarian crisis that needed quick response from the national government. 

When The Standard team arrived at Muino village at about 3pm, we meet Josephine Kapel, her husband Kapel Yaranyang and their son, Hosea Pkopus, at an evacuation camp.

Surviving child

The couple said Hosea was their only surviving child after his seven brothers and sisters were swept away by floods. 

Yaranyang and his wife had left the children – aged between seven and 18 years – at home to attend a funds drive at a neighbour’s house. 

“I came home at about 10pm and I couldn’t locate my house. It had been washed away. My children were no more,” said an emotional Josephine.

She said they launched a search for the missing children and were lucky after Hosea was found alive by the roadside near the river.

Yaranyang said the flood washed away all his possessions, including Sh200,000 in cash, a motorcycle and five cows.

“I urge the Government to help me start my life again after this tragedy. I am yet to come to terms with the disaster,” he said.

Emmanuel Losidik narrated how he saw a Sh80 million bridge that linked Muino village to the Kapenguria-Lodwar road destroyed by the swollen river at midnight on Friday.

“I was from a nearby trading centre and as soon as I crossed the bridge, I saw it being swept away. I later received calls eople from the hills had been washed away,” Losidik said.

He added that residents launched rescue efforts, but only managed to recover the bodies of four children and two adults nearly 15 kilometres downstream.

Losidik also said that eight bridges erected on River Weiwei in the 1980s were destroyed and the rubble deposited in Kainuk area along the border of West Pokot and Turkana counties.

Governors who visited the survivors camping at Tamkal Secondary gave a Sh2.5 million donation to assist the victims.

They said a chopper tour of the area had revealed that more lives could be lost if the rains continue.

“The Government should look at the settlement of the people of West Pokot afresh. The county is mountainous and most places are still at risk,” said Mandera Governor Ali Roba.

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