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Save our lives, plead desperate villagers on Athi River island

Monday December 2 2019

Makueni floods

Kaiti MP Joshua Kimilu on December 2, 2019 talks to residents displaced by floods in Makueni County and who are now camping at Tusunini Primary School. Residents have appealed for help to rescue three men who are marooned on an island on Athi River. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PIUS MAUNDU
By PIUS MAUNDU
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 NYAMBEGA GISESA
By NYAMBEGA GISESA
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Three men marooned on a small island nestled at a section of Athi River which passes through Yikivuthi Village in Makueni County spent the third day in the cold Monday amid desperate appeals for assistance.

Mr Mutuku Tila, Mr Mutei Kiambi and Mr Muinde Kasuu were marooned on Saturday when raging waters suddenly broke the river’s banks.

The three casual labourers, who burn charcoal for a living, were reported missing by their families on Saturday and spotted the following day perched on rocks on the small island.

Worried residents immediately reported the incident to local administrators and the police.

POLICE CHOPPER

They expected that a police chopper, which rescued two other people who had been stranded on the upper section of the river, would save the three men.

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"We have been expecting, in vain, that the water will subside. We urgently need a chopper to rescue the three," said Mr Daniel Kimiti, a resident.

"The chopper did not get to this side of the river on Sunday," said Masongaleni Chief Pius Kamuya who joined dozens of residents keeping vigil along the river bank.

SLEEP ON ROCKS

"We've been signalling them not to risk wading through the raging waters," he told the Nation on Monday.

"They sleep on rocks. We guess they survive on wild berries. They need to be rescued quickly before the raging waters cover them up," he added.

There are fears that the three could be washed away unless they are rescued quickly as it rained heavily in the region Sunday night.

According to Makueni County Commissioner Mohammed Maalim, heavy rains, which have been pounding the region, have led to the deaths of 10 people in the region.

DROWNING

Most of them drowned as they attempted crossing flooded rivers.

Three others, including a six-year-old girl, died in Kilungu over the weekend after their homes were covered by mudslides.

"We have relocated 16 households with more than 60 residents to three schools in the mudslide-prone areas," Mr Maalim said.

“Kenya Red Cross and the county government are providing the affected families with food and other essentials.”

He cautioned residents against wading through flooded rivers.

POLICE RESCUE

Meanwhile, the Kenya Police Airwing has deployed five of its seven operational helicopters to rescue victims of floods as heavy rains and overflows continue to ravage various parts of the country.

On Sunday, the flying police rescued three flood victims, who had been marooned for as many as three days, unable to swim or find any other means to free themselves.

“We rescued one person stranded in 14 Falls in Kilimambogo, Thika, and two others in Makueni,” Colonel (Rtd) Rodgers Mbithi, the Kenya Police Airwing boss, told Nation.

The police aircraft that are operational include two Augusta Westland helicopters, two Russian MI-17 choppers and two Bell helicopters.

One of the Augusta Westland helicopters is dedicated to the Presidential Escort Unit, while another chopper is deployed in Boni Forest in the ongoing surveillance operations aimed at flushing out Al-Shabaab militants.