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'I'm aboard,' ferry tragedy victim's last words

Tuesday October 1 2019

FERRY TRAGEDY

Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu. Their bodies have not been retrieved from the Indian Ocean, where their car fell on September 29, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY  

MOHAMED AHMED
By MOHAMED AHMED
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At 6.15pm, Mr John Wambua spoke to his wife Mariam Kighenda who told him she had driven into the ferry.

Kighenda, 35, and her last born daughter Amanda Mutheu, 4, were from their family farm in Msambweni, Kwale County.

“My wife had gone to get vegetables as she does on weekends. She called when she drove to the ferry and I knew she would be home soon,” a tearful Mr Wambua said Monday.

Minutes later, he saw the news on social media. “I immediately attempted to call her to no avail," he said.

Mr Wambua left the house and headed to Likoni ferry police station where he confirmed that his wife of 13 years and daughter had drowned.

“I am broken. Where do I start?” he said before breaking down.

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SEARCH EFFORTS

From Sunday night, Mr Wambua was at Likoni channel waiting for the bodies to be retrieved from the Indian Ocean only to be told that the search had been called off.

Early Monday morning, Mr Wambua and some relatives headed to the channel once again.

Kenya Navy officers were patrolling the scene of the tragedy but left minutes later.

The family had spent hours at the channel with no sign of the military officers returning.

ABANDONED

Ms Catherine Wanjala, Kighenda's sister, could not hide her frustrations. “Nothing is going on. No one seems to care about my sister and niece. There was no one to save her life and nobody wants to help retrieve the bodies. The family has not received a word from the navy or Kenya Ferry Service,” she said.

The family had even taken the decision to pay local divers to look for the bodies. “The ferries are operating normally as we remain here as bystanders. The KFS (Kenya Ferry Services) officials are behaving like nothing happened,” Ms Wanjala said.