Kenya: Govt Racing Against Time to Retrieve Car, Bodies From Indian Ocean

11 October 2019

Mombasa — The government is racing against time to retrieve bodies of a mother and her daughter who drowned when their vehicle plunged into the Indian Ocean close to two weeks ago.

With Mashujaa Day celebrations drawing closer, officials say, the Kenya Navy and a team mandated to retrieve the car and bodies are under pressure to ensure the incident does not become an embarrassment after a section of coast residents vowed to stay away from the event if the bodies will not have been retrieved by Sunday.

Locals and the family have accused the team of taking too long to retrieve the vehicle even after government spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna assured that it was to be brought out Thursday.

"We have been here from 9am. We were assured that we will get the bodies today (Thursday) evening, but we are yet to see anything. " said Luka Mbati, the family spokesperson.

The team was on Friday attempting to retrieve the vehicle, in a delicate exercise involving a crane and several boats.

The vehicle, a Toyota ISIS, slid off ferry MV Harambee ferry on the evening of September 29, in what has exposed inefficiencies and security risks in the ferry operations. Witnesses said there was no attempt by any emergency team to rescue the two, with onlookers watching helplessly as the vehicle sank with Mariam Kigenda, 35, and her 4-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu.

On Wednesday, Government Spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna said the divers had sighted the vehicle.

"We had high hopes that the car would be retrieved by the end of today (Thursday) evening. However, the high speed under currents made it impossible to tie the vehicle and pull it up," said Oguna, "We have confirmed that there are bodies in the vehicle. If that vehicle didn't have bodies in it, we could have retrieved it long time ago."

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