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Transport PS Koimet to lead retrieval efforts of ferry victims

Wednesday October 2 2019

ALLAN OLINGO
By ALLAN OLINGO
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HARRY MISIKO
By HARRY MISIKO
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Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has appointed his Principal Secretary Esther Koimet to lead efforts to retrieve bodies and vehicle that plunged into Indian Ocean on Sunday.

Mr Macharia on Wednesday said Ms Koimet would lead the multi-agency team that is battling to pull out the bodies of 35-year-old Mariam Kighenda and her four-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu.

The two bodies are said to be more than 60 metres under water and efforts to get them out were called off after three hours on Wednesday.

During the Wednesday operation, robots from the Kenya Ports Authority were sent 40 metres deep into the ocean to try and locate the bodies and the car.

The robots were dispatched to five locations whose coordinates were provided and mapped by the Kenya Navy.

DELAYS

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Sources close to the operation told the Nation that the search and retrieval was suspended due to strong currents and poor visibility, which made it impossible for the underwater cameras to take images of the vehicle.

“There were other things other than the vehicle,” Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna told journalists at the ocean in Mombasa.

Divers, Colonel (Rtd) Oguna said, are using their senses of touch in the search because of poor visibility.

“The water is dirty and they cannot see,” he said, adding that the operation would target nine other locations where the car is suspected to be.

The divers are now awaiting high tides to make another attempt as the family, relatives and friends continue with the long wait for the remains.

Mr Macharia told that Nation that they had decided to take charge of the process in a bid to ease the pain Kighenda’s family has been going through.

The white saloon car, which was among the last ones to get into Mv Harambee from the mainland side of the channel, slid back from the vessel midway on Sunday evening.

Delays in retrieval of the two bodies has cast a spotlight on the poor state of disaster preparedness at the busy Likoni Channel.

Rampant safety and security lapses at the channel have also attracted anger from leaders and ordinary Kenyans who want officials of Kenya Ferry Services to be fired.