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Bystanders ‘watched church mothers die’

Sunday August 12 2012

Thika church mourns departed mums
Ms Susan Ngina  alights from an ambulance at Tumbi Hospital in Kibaha, Tanzania, on August 10, 2012 before she was taken to the Muhimbili National Hospital with the other survivors of the road accident.  Photo/JOSEPH ZABLON
Ms Susan Ngina alights from an ambulance at Tumbi Hospital in Kibaha, Tanzania, on August 10, 2012 before she was taken to the Muhimbili National Hospital with the other survivors of the road accident. Photo/JOSEPH ZABLON
By NATION REPORTER

Survivors of an accident in Tanzania which claimed 12 members of a church group on Sunday said the death toll might have been lower had there been quick response from the authorities and bystanders.

“A group of locals gathered around us and just stared without doing anything as the victims were crying out for help while others were dying,” said Ms Agnes Muthoni Muhoro, a member of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa Women’s Guild.

Gospel mission

She was among 84 mothers from six PCEA churches in Thika Parish, who were travelling for a week-long gospel mission to Dar es Salaam when calamity struck.

Ms Muhoro, a teacher at St Patrick’s Primary School, said some of the bystanders even stole valuables from the dead before Tanzanian police arrived at the scene.

Another survivor, Ms Mary Ndung’u, said some youths were demanding to be paid to help rescue the victims.

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Ms Margaret Mukora concurred, saying one of them was heard shouting “nyinyi wa mama wa Kenya si mtoe hela tuwasaidie? (Why don’t you women from Kenya give us some money so that we may help you).”

However, the Women’s Guild national coordinator Veronica Muchiri and Juja MP William Kabogo praised the Kenyan government’s quick response to the tragedy by airlifting the injured to hospital.

Earlier, relatives of the victims were overcome by emotions during a joint service for family members held at the PCEA Happy Valley Church in Thika. Rev Festus K Gitonga, the PCEA secretary general, conducted the service.

The accident occurred on Mandela Bridge in Chelinze area at around 5am on Friday.