Kenya: Ferry Tragedy - Search Team Locates Vehicle

9 October 2019

The vehicle that was carrying a woman and her child, and which lunged into the Indian Ocean at the Likoni channel 10 days ago, has been located.

The vehicle, which Ms Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu were in when it slipped off MV Harambee on September 29, was found following efforts by a multi-agency team.

A video footage exclusively obtained by the Nation show two tyres of the vehicle that is seen lying upside down, with its windows locked. A review of the tape also shows a human hand seen from one of the car windows.

3D FILM

The Nation understands it was a Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) remote-operated undersea vehicle equipment that captured the back side of the vehicle with the hand seen on the front side.

From the video, the vehicle appears to have stuck in the deep waters. Officials from the multi-agency team said the mud in the seabed is 1.5 metres deep.

The vehicle, whose number plate sources says they have captured, appears to have been in the waters for a few days.

After it had plunged into the Indian Ocean, police reported that the vehicle was a Toyota Isis registration number KCB 289C.

Sources said the car is lying 58 metres deep, and will now require specialised engineering teams to pull it out.

The rescue team identified the vehicle between 1pm and 2pm Wednesday when they were reviewing 3D films captured during the morning session.

RETRIEVAL

The spot at which the vehicle was found is one of the four locations that had been identified earlier. The spots are 57 metres, 47 metres, 37 metres and 27 metres deep.

The four locations had been identified by an echo sounder, an instrument used to determine the depth of water and to detect objects in the sea.

The vehicle drifted 40 metres away from where it had plunged into the ocean, according to Kenya Ferry Service (KFS) officials.

Yesterday, government spokesman Cyrus Oguna told journalists the car was seen lying on its side according to photos captured by 3D equipment. “What we have done is 90 per cent of our work, what’s remaining is 10 per cent, which includes retrieval of the vehicle,” Mr Oguna said.

By Wednesday evening, the vehicle had, however, not been retrieved.

Sources told the Nation that officials from Southern Engineering Company (Seco) were assembling equipment to retrieve the vehicle.

CRIME SCENE

The recovery team had put a pink float at the midstream of the Likoni channel as a crime scene where the vehicle had been located. “By today evening or tomorrow we will have removed the vehicle from the sea,” Mr Oguna said.

According to sources within the rescue team, the process to retrieve the vehicle might delay if divers fail to reach the 57-metre depth where the vehicle was located by the underwater cameras.

“We might be forced to import magnetic equipment to assist in retrieving the vehicle, which might take a bit long since it is still difficult to hook the vehicle in that depth and the area is infested with sharks,” one of the divers said.

BIG RELIEF

The announcement was a big relief to the family of Mr John Wambua who have been camping at Likoni.

The vehicle plunged into the Indian Ocean on September 29 at around 6.13pm with Ms Kighenda and her four-year old daughter on board.

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