Newly-weds missing after Zanzibar ferry tragedy

Thursday August 2 2012

Family album Mr Martin Kirimi and his newly-wed wife Mary Mwangi. The couple went missing in Tanzania on their way to the island of Zanzibar for their honeymoon.

Family album Mr Martin Kirimi and his newly-wed wife Mary Mwangi. The couple went missing in Tanzania on their way to the island of Zanzibar for their honeymoon. 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO [email protected]

A Kenyan couple on honeymoon in Tanzania has gone missing since the Zanzibar ferry disaster, which killed 104 people.

Mr Martin Kirimi and his wife of three weeks, Mary Mwangi, had told relatives and friends that they would take a bus from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam and then the ferry to Zanzibar for their honeymoon.

Mr Kirimi from Nyambene in Meru County and his newly-wed wife, Mary, from Karatina in Nyeri County, were last heard of when they left for their 10-day honeymoon in Zanzibar.

Now relatives and friends fear the two may have been aboard the ill-fated ferry that sunk off the shores of Zanzibar.

Mr Kirimi, 30, was a nurse at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi while his wife was a kindergarten teacher in Westlands, Nairobi.

On Thursday, Mr Maina Kariuki, Mr Kirimi’s brother-in-law, told the Nation he last talked to him on phone just before they entered Tanzania.

“We spoke around 9.21am when they were at the Namanga border. He promised to buy a mobile phone sim card while in Dar then he would call me to tell me the number they would be using while on honeymoon in Zanzibar,” he said.

“They wanted to enjoy their privacy and ensure people would not disturb them. But Martin never called back. We are not sure if they arrived in the Tanzanian capital although the Dar Express bus company has told us that all passengers arrived safely at 9pm.”

The couple had planned to go to Zanzibar through Dar es Salaam by road to enjoy the scenery, use the ferry to the island and then come back by air, he said.

The Kirimis celebrated their wedding at the Seagull Hotel on Thika Road, spent two nights at another local hotel and on the evening of July 16, Mary’s sister hosted a dinner for the newlyweds at her Kasarani home in Nairobi.

“Martin and Mary were both excited,” said Mary’s sister, Priscillah Mwangi, barely able to conceal her distraught state.

That was the last time she saw her sister and her husband.

What is not clear is if the couple spent the night in Dar or proceeded to the Tanzanian archipelago.

On Tuesday July 18, a day after they presumably arrived in Dar, a ferry with 291 passengers and crew went under off the Tanzanian coast line.

At least 104 people aboard the mv Skagit died. Rescuers saved 146 people, but three days later, the search for the over 80 that were still missing was called off.

Were Martin and Mary among them?

On Friday of the same week, Mary’s family sent her brother, Mr Timothy Kinyua, to Tanzania to see if he could trace them.

He looked at 73 bodies and pored over 100 photographs of those retrieved from the sea and claimed by relatives.

Martin and Mary were not among them.

The family then asked to see a record of the ferry passengers. The ferry authorities, the family said, only recorded people’s first names.

So far, the family has reported to the police, used social media and sought aid from the Kenyan High Commission in Dar es Salaam. Still, nothing.

On Tuesday and on Thursday, the Kenyan High Commission placed advertisements in Tanzanian daily newspapers, Mwananchi and The Citizen asking for any information on the couple.

Kenya police have also contacted Interpol and their Tanzanian counterparts promised to respond by today, the family said.

Friends and family have also created a Facebook page, “Prayer Partners for Mary and Martin” and on Tuesday, they posted the couple’s photo on Twitter under the tag #FindtheKirimis.