Death toll in Kwa Muswii River tragedy rises to 10

The ill-fated lorry that was ferrying an unknown number of people before being swept away by raging flood waters at River Muatineni, Sultan Hamud, Makueni. [Stephen Nzioka, Standard]

The body of a woman who drowned has been recovered from River Kwa Muswii in Makueni bringing the death toll to 10.

The body of the 30-year-old woman we recovered at Ndunguni section of the river in Nguu/Masumba ward on Monday by the Kenya Red Cross Society in collaboration with the Makueni County disaster response unit.

"The body recovery exercise is still on and so far we have 10 bodies at the Sultan Hamud sub-county hospital morgue. Out of the 10 people, nine have been positively identified by family members,” said Urbanus Kioko, county disaster lead in the operation.

The victims drowned on April 26 after a lorry that was ferrying them was swept away by River Kwa Muswii which cuts through Kasikeu-Sultan Hamud road in Makueni county.

A report from a desk mounted at the hospital shows five families reported their missing kin.

“My husband was a businessman. We spoke on Friday morning when he was headed home from Sultan Hamud before getting the news of his demise following the lorry tragedy. We have been accompanying those doing the body search along rivers but all in vain,” said Immaculate Musyoki, the wife of Thomas Musyoki.

Robert Muuo lost his brother who was headed to Kasikeu for market day, “I hope to get his body so that we can lay him to rest,” he said.

“The majority of those who drowned were women who were headed for market day at Kasikeu. They got impatient after waters failed to subside for the better part of the day before boarding the lorry,” said Faith Kyalo, the area hawkers’ chairperson.

Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jnr who visited the 14 injured people in the hospital waved their bills and promised that the county government will foot burial expenses for the 10 victims.

“We have agreed for the post-mortem to be done as soon as possible and also for the county to cater for the burial expenses of the 10 people. The bridge where these people died was badly done,” the governor said.

“It has no guardrails on both sides and therefore drivers can’t see its width as they cross during the rainy season. We have written to the concerned authorities for the bridge to be secured,” he added.

The Devolution Principal Secretary Terry Mbaika said the national government has set aside Sh4 billion for flood mitigation measures in the affected regions including Makueni County.

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