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Villagers narrate tales of victims who died in dam tragedy because of money

Joel Kiarie, a resident of Nyakinyua village in Solai, recalls his neighbour suddenly turning back as they fled from the raging waters of Patel dam on Wednesday, having remembered that she had forgotten some money in the house.

“She said she was going back to collect the money and would return immediately since she could not imagine losing it. However, as soon as she got to the house, she was met by the waters. She didn’t survive,” Mr Kiarie remembers.

“We had warned her not to risk her life but she insisted that she had to get her money.”

The woman, whose name Kiarie withheld in respect for her family, was one of the many residents in the villages around Solai who had managed to escape from the waters but returned to their houses to collect either a mobile phone or money, only to meet their death.

Another youth was reported to have drowned when he rushed to pick up his phone in a house, ignoring a warning that he could drown as the water was fast approaching. He never survived.


“We were running away but he remembered that his phone was in the house; he said he was expecting a call and ran back fast. We did not see him again,” said a Mr Kariuki, the deceased’s friend.

Another group of villagers, though aware of the oncoming tragedy, also died after running in the direction of the raging floods.

In a brief moment of panic caused by the rumbling of the fast-moving waters, a group of youths who were playing pool in a shop dashed out and ran away from the direction of the water.

But two of them chose to run in the opposite direction, apparently to inform their parents of the impending disaster. They never made it to their destination as they were swept away.

“I was among those who decided to run. However, as we ran away from the waters, two of us ran towards their homes to inform their families, in the direction of the rushing waters. They were swept away by the waters,” recounted another villager.

The residents told the Sunday Nation that given the intensity with which the water was flowing, carrying with it huge boulders and other debris, only “God’s miracle’ would have saved whoever crossed its path.