Geologists join search for bodies in Lake Nakuru crash

Saturday October 28 2017

Search teams in Lake Nakuru where a helicopter with five people on board crashed on October 21, 2017. Geologists from the Ministry of Mining have joined the search for the three remaining bodies. PHOTO |AYUB MUIYURO |NATION MEDIA GROUP


A team of 10 geologists from the Ministry of Mining has arrived in Nakuru to help in the recovery of of debris and bodies of three victims of last Saturday's Lake Nakuru helicopter crash.

However, they could not start their work immediately as it was still raining.

The team from the Geology Department brought with them a magnetometer that will complement the rest of the equipment being used in the recovery efforts.


A geologist at the ministry, Mr Enoch Kipseba, said the magnetometer detects any metallic object inside the water.

"We are expecting that the remaining material of the chopper is metallic and if detected it will lead to recovery of the bodies," he said.


On Thursday, a sonar was brought in to help scan for any object trapped inside the water. So far nothing has been recovered in the past four days.

"Due to the shallowness of the lake, the sonar can only cover a narrow area but with the magnetometer, we are hopeful that we will have results," said Mr Kipseba.


Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Wanyama Musiambo, who is also part of the recovery team, said they have so far acquired eight boats and more than 40 divers who are currently taking part in the operation.

"I want to assure the families we shall not leave the site until we recover the bodies no matter how long it will take us," said Mr Musiambo.

He further said that so far they have all it takes for the operation in terms of equipment and expertise.

He said with the equipment and expertise having been reinforced, there was hope that the recovery mission would yield fruit.


Mr Musiambo said the team leaders had decided to seek divine intervention as the search enters its ninth day on Sunday.

"On top of that we have decided to seek for spiritual intervention and we shall be having an inter-denominational service tomorrow (Sunday) on the shores of the lake," he added.

He said a number of churches have confirmed participation in the prayers.

The prayers will be held amid desperation in the search for the three remaining bodies of victims of the helicopter crash.


Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and Mr Musiambo promised families of the victims that the search which entered its eighth day on Saturday would go on, dispelling fears that there were plans to call it off.

The ill-fated aircraft crashed early Saturday morning killing five occupants, three who were members of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s media team.

It is suspected that the three whose bodies are yet to be retrieved might have fastened their seatbelts at the time of the crash and could still be trapped in the wreckage of the main body of the helicopter.

For the last four days, the search team has not reported any success in its mission despite spending over eight hours every day in the water.


On Friday, more divers from the Kenya Navy joined in the search and more equipment was brought in.

The body of the pilot, Mr Apollo Malowa, and one of the victims, Mr Anthony Kipyegon, were retrieved on Monday.

The bodies of Mr Sam Gitau, Mr John Mapozi and Ms Veronica Muthoni are yet to be found.

The national and county governments promised not to abandon the search until the remaining victims are found.

On Friday, Governor Kinyanjui remained hopeful the remaining bodies would be located and retrieved from the lake soon.

“We pray for the family and we are giving them proper counselling and working together in this mission,” he said.


The governor said the county has learnt critical lessons on how to respond to emergency situations and would work on a response strategy for future occurrences.

“We shall be working with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other agencies to come up with a comprehensive emergency response system for better response in future,” he said.

On Saturday, Ms Kihika spent time talking to families of the victims whom she described as sharp and hardworking young men.

“They worked very hard for my campaign until the last minute. Sometimes we went for a whole day without a meal but none of them complained,” she said.

She said she had advised them to enrol for various courses to secure a brighter future.


Counsellors at the recovery centre say those who have so far gone through the process have responded positively.

Some of the challenges being encountered by search and recovery teams are poor visibility in the lake due muddy water, a wide search area, presence of wild animals and bad weather among other things.

The operation involves personnel from both the national and county governments, Kenya Defence Forces (Kenya Navy) divers, National Police Service, KWS, divers from the Kenya Red Cross Society and the Sonko Rescue Team, Lake Naivasha Divers, the local community and relatives of the victims.