Agony surrounds kin in search for air crash victims

Wednesday November 1 2017

Lake Nakuru

A team of divers on October 29, 2017 search for missing passengers of the helicopter that crashed into Lake Nakuru. The three bodies are believed to be trapped in the wreckage of the main body of the helicopter. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MAGDALENE WANJA
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By ERIC MATARA
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For the last 10 days now, distressed families of victims of an helicopter crash in Lake Nakuru gather every day on the shores.

Their only wish is to receive news that the three bodies of their loved ones have been retrieved.

Each time the divers’ boats come ashore, the devastated family members hold their breath, hoping for “good” news of the recovery of a body.

DIVERS
Since the accident occurred on October 21, the families have gone through anguish as search teams comprising 40 divers comb the lake in a bid to retrieve the missing bodies and the aircraft wreckage.

The three bodies are believed to be trapped in the wreckage of the main body of the helicopter, which is yet to be located.

One wonders why the search teams, said to consist of highly trained divers, is yet to find the remaining bodies or even locate the main body of the aircraft.

BURIAL
The campaign helicopter was carrying five people.

They were the pilot, Mr Apollo Malowa; Ms Veronicah Muthoni; and three members of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s communications team — Mr Sam Gitau, Mr John Mapozi and Mr Anthony Kipyegon.

The bodies of Mr Malowa and Mr Kipyegon were retrieved on Monday last week and the burial is set for this weekend.

On the day the accident occurred, the helicopter was to ferry a group of journalists to Narok for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign rally.

CHALLENGES
The recovery mission has proved difficult, even after the divers received reinforcements from the Mining ministry at the weekend.

National Disaster Management Unit deputy director and communications officer Pius Masai said poor visibility due to dirty water, heavy rains in the area, heavy silt and mud in the lake, a wide search area and the presence of wild animals are among the factors that have hindered the operation.

“We have eight search teams with boats. With the reinforcement from the Mining ministry, we hope we will retrieve the remaining bodies and the helicopter wreckage despite the challenges. We are pushing through,” Mr Masai said.

RESCUE TEAM
The recovery operation involves personnel from both the national and county governments.

It involves Kenya Navy divers, the Bomet County Government Disaster Management Unit, the National Police Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Red Cross Society divers.

Others are Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s Rescue Team divers, Lake Naivasha divers, the local community and relatives of the victims.


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