EXPERTS AT WORK

Don’t slam state for slow recovery Likoni ferry tragedy bodies

Divers were facing challenges including bad weather and possible shark attacks

In Summary

• Tragedy brings up memories of the Mtongwe ferry disaster in which 272 people perished in 1994. 

• State could learn from how other affected governments overcame the challenge of finding bodies underwater.

Rescue team at Likoni have located the wreckage of the sunken vehicle
CHALLENGES: Rescue team at Likoni have located the wreckage of the sunken vehicle
Image: COURTESY

The Likoni ferry tragedy brings up memories of the Mtongwe ferry disaster in which 272 people perished in 1994. At the time, the rescue operation did not bear fruits and this would go down into annals of history as Kenya’s worst maritime accident.

In the latest tragedy, the multi-agency operation which has been going on since last Sunday located the wreckage after a delay that did not sit well with Kenyans. Not to speak for the government, but I disagree with those Kenyans claiming the government was not willing to find the bodies.

Citing similar disasters that have occurred in other parts of the world, several factors could determine how long it will take the divers to retrieve the bodies.  Were the sunken vessels brought to the surface? If yes, what equipment was used to lift them? We could also learn from how the affected governments overcame the challenges.

The country could also hire experts from other parts of the country. Given this background, I am convinced the rescue teams worked very hard. They were going up against the challenge of bad weather and possible shark attacks. This did not, however, dampen their spirit.

While using modern technology, the divers have located six vehicles and identified 14 points on the ground of the sea. Notably, the Kenya Navy and Kenya Coast Guard Service are playing a lead role in this exercise.

Diving is not a walk in the park. It is a risky affair that needs to be done by trained people with a lot of experience. The seawater of Likoni Channel is 70 metres deep and hence you would expect the divers to prepare well.

Besides the oxygen tank, they must put on the protective gears that would help increase visibility and avert marine life attacks.

 

Political analyst and blogger