TRAGEDY

Man buried alive, another missing after Nyeri quarry collapse

Witnesses said five people were working in the quarry when it caved in.

In Summary

• The quarry workers' chairman Boniface Gitonga blamed the accident on the heavy rains that have been pounding the area.

• Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga who was at the site said such tragedies have begun recently, though the quarry business has been going on for years.

Recovery operations at Gikindu quarry in Chaka where two people were buried alive after a section of a quarry caved in.
Recovery operations at Gikindu quarry in Chaka where two people were buried alive after a section of a quarry caved in.
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

One person died and another is still missing after a quarry collapsed at Gikindu in  Kieni constituency of Nyeri county.  

The quarry workers' chairman Boniface Gitonga said the incident occurred during the morning hours.

He blamed the accident on the heavy rains that have been pounding the area.

 

Witnesses said five people were working in the quarry when it caved in. Three people managed to escape while two were trapped.

 
 

Already one body has been retrieved while rescue operations were ongoing to retrieve the second body by press time.

Steve Wachira said he heard a loud bang, only to realise that two of his colleagues had been covered by soil and rocks. He managed to escape unhurt.

He said he ran away when he heard people outside the quarry screaming.

Recovery operations at Gikindu quarry in Chaka where two people were buried alive after a section of a quarry caved in.
Recovery operations at Gikindu quarry in Chaka where two people were buried alive after a section of a quarry caved in.
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

One of the casualties was in his thirties while the second was in his late sixties, he said.

Thegu River Ward MCA Richard Kamuhia said the tragedy happened at around 10 am.

“We are 100 per cent certain that we have only one body remaining under the soils,” he said.

 

Kamuhia said 80 per cent of the quarries in Nyeri county are in his ward and employ more than 10,000 people. 

It is a big industry that has been giving the county government a lot of revenue, he said. 

“We have been trying our best to educate our people about the safety of the quarries though I can say we have not had had many tragedies. Last year we had only one and it is by bad luck that we have another this year that claimed lives,” he said.

Recovery operations at Gikindu quarry in Chaka where two people were buried alive after a section of a quarry caved in.
Recovery operations at Gikindu quarry in Chaka where two people were buried alive after a section of a quarry caved in.
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga who was at the site said such tragedies have begun recently, though the quarry business has been going on for years.

Kahiga cautioned those working in the quarries to look for new sites whenever the stones are depleted. 

The Kenya Red Cross, the police and county government officials were involved in the recovery operation.

The governor said the recovery team will not leave the site until the body has been retrieved.

Kahiga said the county government will give every support needed by the affected families including for burial preparations.

The county chief said his government will be sending an environmental expert to assess the quarries and give recommendations on their safety.

He said most of the people who work in quarries do not wear safety clothing, an issue he said will be addressed.