City travellers tell of how they survived Sultan Hamud crash – PHOTOS
Survivors of a road accident that occurred Wednesday on the busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway forced their way through the windows to escape from the smouldering bus.
The accident, which happened after midnight near Emali Township when the bus and a lorry collided head-on, has, so far, claimed nine lives and left 18 other travellers, including two schoolboys, injured. Some 10 people are said to be missing.
The boys, Martin Macharia and Geoffrey Gathii, who are in Standard 5 and 3, respectively, at Born Free School in Nairobi and were on a trip with their teacher.
DRIVER WAS SPEEDING
Mr Boniface Aseka counts himself lucky to be alive. He told the Nation that he was seated next to the driver, who was speeding. He claimed that the driver had misjudged the distance between the bus and an oncoming lorry, leading to the crash.
“It was drizzling by the time we got to Sultan Hamud. We were behind a slow truck that the driver was determined to overtake it. But he misjudged the distance and we found ourselves staring at a truck barrelling straight at us,” said Mr Aseka, a taxi driver in Nairobi,
He said the truck driver tried to veer away from the bus but it was too late.
“I heard our driver curse out loud and I knew the crash was inevitable. I tried to angle my body away from the windscreen to protect my face and chest from the impact. Then we crashed and I passed out,” said Mr Aseka.
The driver did not make it. His side was completely mangled and he was trapped beneath metal. No sooner had Mr Aseka and other passengers got outside than the bus burst into flames.
DRIVER CAUSED CRASH
Ms Nyabwana Abu Sadiki, a mother of three, who is nursing injuries on her hands, head, neck and chest, also believes the bus driver caused the crash.
“We kept telling him to slow down but he would not listen. He said that he wanted to get us to Mombasa as fast as possible,” she told the Nation from her hospital bed.
Ms Sadiki, who lives in Watamu, had come to Nairobi to collect a passport from the Immigration office. She was not even supposed to travel on the ill-fated vehicle belonging to Buscar Company. She had wanted to board a Simba Coach bus but changed her mind at the last minute because it was leaving later. She lost all her belongings in the crash.
“I was woken up by the screeching of emergency breaks that was followed by a bang and the wailing by passengers who were also shouting, ‘Fire!’,” said Mr Clement Wachira, a Malindi-based trader, who was heading to Mombasa.
Mr Wachira suffered a fractured leg and a bleeding nose.
Dr Stanley Muia, an orthopaedic specialist at Kilome Nursing Home, said that the hospital had received eight patients from the crash. Majority of them, 14, were treated and discharged and four, with more serious injuries, are still admitted.
ALL PATIENTS STABLE
“All the patients still here are stable and will be treated or transferred shortly. None of the bodies from the accident were brought to our mortuary,” he said.
Dr Muia noted that accidents are common on the stretch between Sultan Hamud and the Loitoktok junction.
“In a week, we treat up to 20 accident victims. We have seen too many accidents on this road,” he said, calling for action to save lives.
This year alone, there have been three other fatal accidents at the same stretch. Police said the accident, which occurred around midnight, was due to driver error.
Kilungu OCPD Paul Odede confirmed that the number of the dead was nine. He explained that the body parts they collected later from the scene could belong to the bodies already picked up.
He said they had failed to account for another 10 other passengers. However, he added that it was possible that they escaped without any injuries, boarded other vehicles and proceeded with their journeys.
The badly burnt bodies were taken to Chiromo Mortuary in Nairobi where they would be identified by their relatives.
“Kenya Red Cross officials on site are advising those looking for their relatives to visit Chiromo Mortuary to identify the bodies,” he said.
Traffic police boss Samuel Kimaru who visited the scene of the accident yesterday said that the driver had been speeding and overtaking carelessly.