Two bodies of Lake Nakuru copter crash victims recovered

Monday October 23 2017

NDOC desk officer Jonathan Kertich

NDOC desk officer Jonathan Kertich speaks to journalists on October 23, 2017 when he said that two bodies of victims of the Lake Nakuru helicopter crash had been recovered. PHOTO | MAGDALENE WANJA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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For the third day, distressed relatives and friends of victims of the Saturday helicopter crash gathered on the shores of Lake Nakuru, anxiously waiting to see the bodies of their loved ones.

The families hoped that the search would bear fruit.

The first body was recovered at around 11am on the north-eastern side of the lake, where parts of the chopper’s debris were recovered on Sunday.

Hours later, another body was recovered near the same location.

The two bodies were taken to Umash Funeral Home on the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.

Rescue teams comprised officers from the Kenya Navy, Kenya Police, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service and other professional divers.

The teams’ boats combed through six marked points of the lake for the better part of Monday.

The campaign chopper had five people on board including three members of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s communication team — Mr Sam Gitau, Mr John Mapozi and Mr Anthony Kipyegon — and Ms Veronicah Muthoni as well as the pilot, Mr Apollo Malowa.

At the time of the crash, the chopper was to ferry a group of journalists to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign rally in Narok.

National Disaster Operation Centre desk officer Jonathan Kertich confirmed that two bodies had been recovered and taken to the mortuary.

He asked the victims’ families to prepare for identification on Wednesday.

“I call upon families and friends of the victims to be calm as we arrange for the identification process on Wednesday morning,” Mr Kertich said.

He added that the families could not be given any information before verification.

“The identity of the two bodies, both male, will be revealed on Wednesday by police,” Mr Kertich added.

He noted that 16 more divers had been brought on board to aid in the search operation.

“The team has been working hard but the process has to be systematic,” he said.

Ms Kihika called for prayers for the affected families.

The retrieval operation began at around 9am for the third day.

Police and KWS officers guarded the shores and a separate retrieval camp where no one was allowed apart from those involved in the operation.

Earlier, families of the five victims complained of poor communication between them and the recovery team.

They said they had not received any official brief about the operation and were relying on rumours.

Mr William Ngugi, the father of Mr Gitau, said they had been camping there for three days but had no information on what was happening.

“The process is very slow because of lack of proper equipment to facilitate,” Mr Ngugi said.

Another relative, Ms Grace Mburu, said the process had left the families distraught.

The search for the remaining three bodies resumes Wednesday.