Family turns to private divers in bodies search

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 00:00 |

The family of a woman and daughter who died when their car plunged into the sea at the Likoni channel has been forced to hire private divers to retrieve the bodies after the search mission was called off last evening. 

The family said it had lost hope in government agencies and had turned to private divers to help them search for the  bodies.

A multi-agency team of rescuers from the  Kenya Navy, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Kenya Coast Guard Services (KCGS) failed to recover the bodies and the vehicle yesterday.

Family spokesman Luka Mbati said they had paid Kenya Rescue Divers Sh100,000 to carry out the search mission.

“It is two days since the incident. We have not seen any commendable efforts to remove the bodies from the ocean. Kenya Ferry is to blame for the accident but it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to retrieve the bodies of our loved ones,” said Mbati.

Kighenda’s sister Catherine Wanjala accused KFS of showing little concern about the family’s plight.

“KFS officials are behaving as if nothing happened,” she said.

Kenya Navy, Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Coast Guard Services divers spent the better part of Tuesday trying to locate the vehicle and the victims of the accident. 

KFS chairman Dan Mwazo said the exercise had been called off at 5.20pm due to visibility problems. 

Bad weather

“Divers are not able to see inside the water because of darkness. We’ll resume tomorrow early in the morning. We are calling for patience from family and Kenyans because this is a delicate exercise,” he said.

Earlier, government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna said recovery efforts had been hampered by poor weather, the fact that the channel is the only gateway  into Mombasa port and the heavy commuter traffic into the island.

“That notwithstanding, the government is committed to ensuring that the recovery effort is successfully conducted as soon as possible. We are also calling upon the public to be patient as the operation continues,” said Oguna in a statement.

Oguna also promised that the government was working on measures to improve procedures  at all crossing points in order to embrace  safety of  commuters and avoid accidents in future.

At around noon, KFS management announced suspension of crossing of all vessels at the Likoni channel for 30 minutes to allow the waters to calm down to facilitate smooth underwater operation.

In a press briefing, KFS Managing Director Bakari Gowa, who is under pressure to resign over the incident, said divers were able to locate the bodies and the vehicle wreckage at two locations beneath the waters at 173 feet and 75 feet deep.

“I want to confirm that the diving mission has started this morning. We have been forced to clear all the vessels including ships using this channel because the divers need calm waters to operate efficiently,” he said.

He said KFS does not have divers of its own and relies on KPA and Kenya Navy divers for such operations.

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