UPDATE: 24 dead, 12 rescued as Mwingi bus capsizes in river

The passengers were going for a wedding.

In Summary

•The bus was carried by raging waters of Enziu River along Nguni-Nuu road.

•Four children and eight adults are among those rescued.

The bus.
The bus.
Image: COURTESY

Twenty four people died on Saturday while 12 were rescued after a bus capsized in river Enziu, Mwingi County.

The 12 include four children and eight adults. Fifteen of the dead are members of the same family who were going to attend a wedding of an elderly couple aged over 70 years.

The wedding which was to take place at Nuu-Mwingi did not take place following the tragedy.

Kitui governor Charity Ngilu condoled with the bereaved families and said recovery efforts would resume on Sunday morning.

"I want to send my heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in this incident and pray that God will give them strength and fortitude to bear the pain of loss," Ngilu said.

The death toll from the incident is expected to rise as some bodies were still trapped inside the bus when recovery efforts were suspended by nightfall. 

"For now as it is getting late, we would be asking people to go back to their homes and that we start this operation tomorrow," Ngilu said at the scene of the accident on Saturday.

"Meanwhile, I'm going to put a lot more pressure on the national government to complete this bridge because this bridge has truly caused a lot of pain," added the governor. 

Ngilu said the retrieved bodies had been airlifted by Kenya Air force to Mwingi and Kyuso mortuaries.

A team of Kenya Navy divers are helping with the search and recovery efforts.

Residents looking at the water after the bus got submerged.
Residents looking at the water after the bus got submerged.
Image: Linah Musangi

In a video seen by the Star, the bus driver attempted to steer the vehicle through a flooded section of a bridge on river Enziu.

Rescue underway.
Rescue underway.
Image: COURTESY

After a few seconds, the bus was overcame by raging waters and swept into the river. It was not immediately established how many people were aboard the 54 seater-bus. 

Mwingi East sub county police commander Joseph Yakan confirmed the incident saying the victims were members of Mwingi Catholic Church who were going for a wedding.

They were travelling in a bus belonging to St Joseph's Seminary, Mwingi.

“Unfortunately the bus was carried by water at Enziu River along Nguni-Nuu road,” he said.

The video showed some passengers trying to swim to safety after escaping from the bus through the windows shortly before it was completely submerged.

Residents looking at the submerged bus.
Residents looking at the submerged bus.
Image: Linah Musangi

Former Kitui Senator David Musila who visited the scene, urged the Kitui County government to erect barriers on the Enziu bridge to avert such accidents in the future. 

Machakos governor Alfred Mutua dispatched a team of Emergency and Rescue Service providers to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts.

The river.
River Enziu where a bus capsized in Mwingi County on December 4,2021 The river.
Image: Linah Musangi

Mutua also condoled with the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in the accident.

"I also pass my condolence message to my colleague governor, Charity Ngilu following this very tragic incident," he said.

Mutua urged drivers to observe caution while approaching rivers especially during this rainy season.

"All drivers, at this moment, whenever a river is covered by water...even one inch of water is enough to get a bus or a car going. Please do not play with water," Mutua said.

"Just wait until the water subsides. It's better than losing so many lives," he added.

Kenya's Ambassador to Uganda, Kiema Kilonzo also sent his condolences following the incident.

"I stand with you and and pray for you during this difficult moment. May our good Lord comfort you," Kiema said.

He called on the Kitui County government to prioritize construction of proper bridges, especially those in rural areas.

"We can and should save lives as a priority to our county," he said.

Former Kitui governor Julius Malombe also sent his condolences. 

This story was last updated at 9pm, Dec 4.

Residents trying to help.
Residents try to rescue victims after a bus capsized in river Enziu, Mwingi County on December 4,2021 Residents trying to help.
Image: Linah Musangi