HOPES DASHED

Wait continues as recovery of Likoni tragedy bodies fails

Government spokesman had said exercise would take two to three hours, no fruits borne by end of the day

In Summary

• Government spokesperson had expressed confidence the car would be retrieved by close of business Thursday. 

• Family members wore gloomy, dejected and tired faces by the end of the day, search was called off for the day. 

Increased activity at the Likoni crossing as hopes of finally retrieving the car that sunk into the Indian Ocean were raised on Thursday
NOT YET RETRIEVED: Increased activity at the Likoni crossing as hopes of finally retrieving the car that sunk into the Indian Ocean were raised on Thursday
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Despair was written on the faces of Likoni ferry tragedy family on Thursday evening as efforts to retrieve the car that contains two bodies of their loved ones delayed. 

Hopes were raised on Thursday morning that finally, the 11-day wait for the recovery of the bodies of Mariam Kighenda and her four-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu would end. 

When, around noon, government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna announced that the recovery exercise would take two to three hours, some family members rejoiced, uttering praises to God. 

However, with recovery efforts showing no sign of progress by 5pm, most family members wore gloomy, dejected and tired faces. The search was called off for the day. 

“Now we are just waiting for an announcement. Any announcement,” a member of the family told the Star. 

Earlier, Oguna had expressed confidence the car Mariam and Amanda plunged into the Indian Ocean in on September 29 would be retrieved by close of business Thursday. 

Search and recovery operations have been starting at 9am and closing at 6pm since day one of the search. 

During night time, analysis of the data captured by special cameras and other equipment deployed in during the search operations took over. 

While speaking to the media on Thursday, Oguna was cautious not to raise false hopes. 

He said he could not confirm the existence of the bodies in the car though he expressed confidence they would be found in the car. 

 

Hundreds of Kenyans took advantage of the Moi Day holiday to take a break from the usual hustle and bustle of work to witness the expected retrieval of the bodies.

Others boarded the ferries, which offered a closer view of the operation, and crossed the Likoni channel from mainland to island and back to mainland several times without alighting.

Now we are just waiting for an announcement. Any announcement
Family member

Mariam’s car reversed from the ferry, MV Harambee, and plunged into the ocean mid-stream from Likoni mainland to the Likoni Island on September 29.

A crane mounted on a special barge was to be used to lift the wreckage from a depth of about 58m where it was spotted. 

Eight divers were busy working ways on how to retrieve the car, whose plate number was confirmed on Wednesday evening by Oguna. 

They were in pairs.

"When two pairs go in, the other two wait for them at the surface," Oguna said. 

The divers have been going into the water with a rope tied on them, he said.

The rope was used to ensure the diver was able to signal their colleagues on the surface whenever they needed help.

"It is not like you see in the movies. It is quite different in reality," the state spokesman said. 

At any given time, there were four divers in the water while four others waited at the surface. 

Earlier, Transport PS Esther Koimet said the retrieval will be a plus to Kenyans and the family of Mariam. 

The family remained mum during the whole exercise, saying they would only speak after they saw the bodies of their loved ones.

Koimet said the prayers of Kenyans have made the operation near its successful end.

Oguna said the retrieval exercise would not affect the ferry operation.

"However, we will not hesitate to stop the ferry services for a while if we would need to," he said.

Edited by R.Wamochie