OPERATION TEMPORARILY CALLED OFF

Likoni tragedy: Strong currents hamper retrieval of bodies

Oguna said the retrieval operation will continue on Friday from 8 am.

In Summary

• The vehicle had been sighted on Wednesday afternoon.

• Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said the speedy undercurrents at the Likoni crossing channel made it impossible to retrieve the vehicle.

Kenya Navy officers at the Likoni ferry crossing on October 10, 2019.
Kenya Navy officers at the Likoni ferry crossing on October 10, 2019.
Image: CHARLES MGHENYI

On a day that the government had assured Kenyans of the possibility of retrieving the wreckage of a vehicle that plunged into the Indian Ocean 11 days ago, it remains a wait-and-see situation.

The vehicle, a Toyota ISIS registration number KCB 289C, reversed while the ferry MV Harambee was still mid-stream on the evening of September 29 with two occupants.

Mariam Kighenda, 35, and her four-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu were in the vehicle when it sunk in the deep Likoni channel.

 
 

At 12:30 pm Thursday, government spokesperson Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna had promised the family of Kighenda and Kenyans the process of retrieving the vehicle will take at most three hours.

The vehicle had been sighted on Wednesday afternoon.

However, six hours since the operation to retrieve the vehicle started, the Kenya Navy officers, were not able to make any progress.

In a 7.00 pm press briefing on Thursday, Oguna said the speedy undercurrents at the Likoni crossing channel made it impossible to retrieve the vehicle.

"We had high hopes that the car would be retrieved by the end of today evening. However, the high-speed undercurrents made it impossible to tie the vehicle and pull it up," said Oguna.

He said they are careful not to lose the bodies in the vehicle.

"If that vehicle didn't have bodies in it, we could have retrieved it a long time ago..but for the past 11 days, we have been here for only on purpose - to retrieve the bodies. Therefore, we need to make sure we are careful not to lose the bodies," Oguna said.

 
 

He said the operation will continue on Friday from around 8 am.

"If we retrieve the vehicle without the bodies, we would have failed in our operation. The family is eagerly waiting to have the bodies, we are therefore going to continue with the operation tomorrow morning," he said.

Earlier on, the family members had expressed disappointment in the operation.

"We had been assured that the bodies would have been retrieved by the end of the day. We have been here from 9 am, but we are yet to see anything," Luka Mbati, the victims' family spokesperson said.

However, Oguna and the Kenya Ferry Services management had a 20-minute session with the family to assure them of the progress made.

"We have been walking with the family. We want to assure them that we are committed in this process," Oguna said.


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