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Visits to Hells Gate tragic gorges suspended

Tuesday April 24 2012

Local tourists inside the gorge at the Hells Gate National Park in Naivasha where seven people were swept away by flash floods on Sunday. The Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) suspended visits to gorges in the park following the tragedy April 24, 2012. SULEIMAN MBATIAH

Local tourists inside the gorge at the Hells Gate National Park in Naivasha where seven people were swept away by flash floods on Sunday. The Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) suspended visits to gorges in the park following the tragedy April 24, 2012. SULEIMAN MBATIAH 

By PETER MWAI [email protected]

The government has suspended visits to gorges in Hells Gate National Park following a tragedy that killed seven members of a church Sunday night.

A statement from Kenya Wildlife Service said the gorges will remain out of bound “during the ongoing rainy season.”

“However, other parts of the popular park remain open for public visitation,” KWS said.

“This is the first such incident to occur in the park, one of Kenya’s enthralling scenes for lovers of nature.”

The park is popular for cycling, horseback riding, rock climbing, nature walks, geothermal geyser viewing and game viewing.

The deceased, who were swept away Sunday evening by sudden flash floods in Naivasha, were walking in the gorge as part of a 53-member Mukarara PCEA church youth group from Waithaka, Dagoretti in Nairobi when they were swept away.

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“KWS would like to express appreciation to the Kenya Red Cross, Kenya police and the local community for their invaluable help in the rescue efforts,” the statement said.

Kenya Red Cross pitched tents at the park to offer counselling to the bereaved.

The bodies were flown using a helicopter from the scene and preserved in a mortuary in Naivasha Monday.

KWS management said it is working closely with the church members and families of the deceased in funeral arrangements.

Hells Gate National Park lies to the south of Lake Naivasha.