NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – When Peter Ndung’u bid goodbye to his mother who was travelling on a church mission to Tanzania with a group of other women, he hoped to see her in a week’s time as healthy as she had left.
But this was not to be as Ndungu’s mother was among those injured when 84 women were involved in an accident near Tanga in Tanzania early on Friday morning.
“They left here on Thursday at 5am and by 7am I confirmed with my mother and they were in Kitengela only to hear other news early this morning (Friday) around 6.30am that there was an accident,” he told Capital FM News.
Even though his mother survived with injuries, 13 other women on the trip were killed and 14 others left with varying injuries.
The group from the Women’s Guild of Thika Presbyterian Happy Valley parish were to go on a weeklong retreat to various parts of Tanzania including Dar-es-Salaam and the island of Zanzibar.
“They were travelling in two buses. We are told that one of the buses rolled, then the other bus that came to rescue them was hit by a trailer that was passing by and that it took a long time for people to come and rescue them. So, there was a kind of breakdown in the rescue operation,” Ndungu whose mother escaped with injuries explained.
At the PCEA church in Landless area of Thika, emotions were high as friends, relatives and worshippers gathered to pray for the safety of their loved ones. Others were unable to hide their feelings and cried out loud.
“I wanted to go but we had some other activities in the church that were taking place and couldn’t let us all go,” one of the Women’s Guild members told us.
She said they have not been able to get much information because most of the women involved in the accident could not be reached on phone.
“One of them is a neighbour and she has just called her daughter and told her she is in hospital not so badly hurt and she is recovering,” said the worshipper.
However, many of the affected families were unwilling to talk as they did not have information of their loved ones.
Even the church leadership had little information about the accident only saying they are relying on the information from the media.
“Up to now it is not very clear who perished. So everybody is anxious because they have relatives who went on the safari… people are not sure who has gone (died) and who is with us (survived). It is really shocking, very sad,” said Stephen Njoroge, Moderator Thika Presbyterian church.
He confirmed that a total of 84 women were aboard the two buses.
“First they gathered here at the church and they prayed and then they took on the safari. We are not very certain but we have lost 11 ladies and plans are there from our government and the office of the general assembly of PCEA to bring back the injured together with the bodies so that the injured can be treated here in Kenya,” he said.
The Guild Organiser, Central Region Eunice Muiru said the women were going to neighbouring Tanzania and Zanzibar solely for mission work.
On Friday afternoon, President Mwai Kibaki directed the armed forces to provide aircrafts and helicopters to help evacuate the Kenyans injured in the accident.
In his message of condolence to the affected families he described the accident as ‘tragic’.