• The accident happened when the driver of a Garissa-bound bus tried to overtake, before he lost control and collided with an oncoming minibus.
• Residents blamed slow road construction works for the accident.
Some of them had left their houses early Tuesday morning to travel to Garissa from Mombasa.
For 15 passengers, the journey tragically ended in a road accident on Wednesday morning. Another 14 people were left in critical condition. Two more people died while receiving treatment.
Families, relatives and friends had to cut short their activities to look for their loved ones in hospitals and morgues. Hundreds of them flocked to the Malindi Subcounty Hospital.
Those who lost their loved ones could not hold back their tears. Some could barely speak, just trying to come to terms with the deaths.
The accident happened in Kwamkikuyu area, about 12km from Malindi town. Visitors overwhelmed the Malindi hospital mortuary.
Witnesses said the Garissa-bound bus was trying to overtake when the driver lost control and collided with an oncoming minibus. They said the bus was speeding.
Both drivers died on the spot and a pile of bodies and the injured remained trapped in the wreckage. They were only removed after a recovery vehicle arrived at the scene to tow the wreckage away.
Hundreds of residents turned up at the scene to help rescue several people who had been fighting to live but were trapped in the bus for over two hours.
A combined effort of the police, members of the public, Kenya Red Cross and Kilifi county officials helped as they rushed them to Malindi Hospital.
Kilifi county secretary Arnold Mkare said by phone that of the 15 who died, five were county employees. They had been using the Sabaki minibus every morning to commute to work.
Usually, the mortuary receives up to 50 people who come to view bodies, but on Wednesday, the number rose significantly, disrupting operations.
Malindi Subcounty Hospital boss Job Gayo said they got information that there was an accident at 7am on the Malindi-Mombasa road and immediately initiated emergency response.
He said all their ambulances in Malindi and Magarini subcounties were deployed to receive the victims.
"Officially, we received 20 patients in our emergency casualty section, 16 male and four female. Of these, two succumbed to their injuries and their bodies have been brought to our mortuary," he said.
He said six had been referred for ICU Care and more specialised imaging facilities, adding that they remained with three patients at the hospital, one of whom had been taken to the theater.
Gayo said at the mortuary were 15 bodies, nine males and six females. He said he could not account for those who had been taken to private facilities.
“As it is now, we are very happy with the situation; we have handled each and every case. The matter has been handled properly and we are at ease," he said.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi said he was greatly saddened by the loss of lives. Other leaders and members of the public said that besides the error in judgement by the drivers, a road contractor, whom they accused of delaying works, was also to blame.
Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, who was among the leaders who visited the hospital and mortuary to console the victims and their families, wants the government to arrest the contractor. She accused the contractor of delaying expansion of the road. She said the road was excavated and abandoned for months, making it challenging for motorists.
A Simba coach driver who was at the scene also blamed the contractor on the road, saying if it were not for the excavation, the accident would not have occurred.
"He excavated the road and abandoned it for a long time which has caused this accident,’’ he said.
Jumwa also wants the county government to waive mortuary and hospital fees for the victims.
Wanjiru Ngugi, a resident, also asked the government to speed up the road expansion to avert loss of lives.
“We have lost children and their mothers, it is sad. We just pray that this road is completed to avoid such tragedies," he said.