NAKURU, Kenya, Feb 8 – Preparations were underway on Sunday for the mass burial of more than 80 victims of the Sachang’wan oil tanker explosion.
Bulldozers and other heavy machinery were at the site digging up the grave where victims who were burnt beyond recognition will be buried on Monday.
The mass grave was dug just 70 meters from the spot where nearly 132 people perished when an oil tanker exploded as hundreds siphoned petrol after it overturned.
“As you can see, we are finalising for the preparations of the burial. The grave will be ready by this evening (Sunday),” a senior official from the Ministry of Public Works told Capital News.
Tents were also erected on the roadside.
But even as the preparations for the mass burial continued, a section of affected villagers protested and demanded to have their kin buried at their homes.
Those interviewed by Capital News said it was against their traditional beliefs to bury their kin in a mass grave.
“This thing will haunt us. They could have just left us to bury our relatives at home,” Kiptum Rotich, who lost a son said.
Another resident Jane Wambui whose daughter perished in the tragedy said she could be satisfied if given ashes to bury.
“I have not been able to locate my daughter but I am told she was seen siphoning fuel. Let them just give me the ash if she was burnt beyond recognition,” she said.
At Wambui’s home in Molo, relatives were gathered Sunday still trying to come to terms with the tragic loss of their kin Rosemary.
“She was our only hope, but now she is long gone. I just hope to see her alive one day,” her sister Wanja said.
When Capital News arrived at the home on Sunday, dozens of relatives were gathered for prayers as they consoled one another.
We were informed that nearly 60 of those killed were residents of Molo town which is about 10 kilometres from the scene of last Saturday’s tragedy in Sachang’wan.
“I also lost a father and two brothers, it is a tragic loss for our family,” James Mosota said, pointing to the house one of his brothers was putting up.
“He wanted to finish this house so that he could leave me with the other. But now he is gone never to be seen alive again,” Mr Mosota said, amid sobs.
Mr Mosota told Capital News that one of his brothers had been burnt beyond recognition while his father and another brother had died in hospital.
“I saw my father before he succumbed. He was in so much pain,” he said and urged the government to help them.
A funeral service and fundraising was held at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Sunday to assist victims of the oil tanker.
Cabinet Ministers William Ruto (Agriculture), Frankline Bett (Roads) and Professor Sam Ongeri (Education) and a host of local leaders were among those present.
Mr Ruto urged residents to be calm and remain united in prayers.
“This is a national tragedy, we are all united and we stand with all those affected,” he said.