Huruma rescuers now move into river in search of bodies
Rescuers have now moved to Nairobi River in search of more victims of Huruma building collapse.
The National Disaster Management Unit (NDMU) said by noon on Sunday 28 people were missing, 10 days after the rescue operation was launched.
The NDMU commissioned a team of about 20 people drawn from the unit, the National Youth Service (NYS), Kenya Red Cross and Nairobi County who will puddle through the murky waters of the heavily contaminated river in the hope of finding the bodies.
BODIES NOT FOUND
According to NDMU deputy director Pius Masai, the move was prompted by several families reporting they were missing their relatives but their bodies were not found in the sifted rubble.
“We are afraid some of them might have drowned and their bodies taken downstream because of how these waters are flowing,” said Mr Masai.
“We also found some documents a kilometre from this site. We will therefore trace this water path and check for the bodies.”
The official said that, while they were glad the mission had come to an end with many survivors, the missing are “a big number and is a concern”.
He said: “Initially, we started out with 125 people missing, but through the days, we have traced some, some bodies have been identified and, as of Saturday, 47 were missing. The Kenya Red Cross figures now put it at 28.”
GUMBOOTS AND LONG STICKS
The team, in gumboots and armed with long sticks, began the search in earnest at 1pm, wading through a mesh of plastic papers, waste bottles and rotting food stuck on roots on the river banks.
It had rained recently and the brown water was surging and bubbling with pressure as it flowed eastwards.
Kenya Red Cross regional manager Michael Ayabei asked Kenyans to report to them once they trace their relative or identify their body in order to update the records appropriately.
After the nearly 166-hour rescue mission at the disaster scene to rescue survivors and retrieve bodies stuck in the rubble of the hitherto six-storey fla, 140 people had been rescued and 49 confirmed dead.
The death toll could rise to 51, however, said Mr Masai, as “two more people died in hospital”. Another 11 victims are still receiving treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital — including the baby rescued alive four days after the April 29 evening collapse of the building amid heavy downpour.
The slabs of the building fell on each other, what the rescue operations termed as “pancake type of collapse”, which made it difficult to reach people who were trapped in the debris without causing harm to them.
On Sunday, the scene was open for viewing by the public. Residents finally visited the area that housed one of the many precariously hanging residential buildings to see the aftermath of the disaster.
Most of them were overwhelmed with emotion after seeing the flattened river bank that now lay with heaps of stone, mortar and thin metal rods that had once held together walls, floors and roofs of houses.