NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 13 – Relatives of those missing after Monday’s tragic fire at Sinai slum spent the better part of Tuesday shuffling between the Kenyatta National Hospital, the Mater Hospital and mortuaries searching for their kin.
Kenya Red Cross Society volunteers directed those who reported missing relatives to the hospitals as well as the City Mortuary where bodies retrieved from the scene were taken for preservation.
At the City Mortuary, Capital News found Wachira Gichuki who was searching for his brother Kabue Gichuki who is believed to have been one of those siphoning fuel before the explosion.
“Those who saw him told us that they saw him running with a jerrycan to the place where they were getting the fuel, but after the fire broke out we have not been able to trace him,” Wachira said of his brother whose wife and children were found to be safe.
“We don’t know if he is dead or alive; we are just looking for him everywhere,” he added.
He said they had not succeeded after searching for him in all the hospitals. “We have not seen him… we don’t know if he is in the mortuary.”
The Kenya Red Cross Society’s Head of Organisational Development Pamela Indiaka said up to 37 people had been reported missing by 2pm on Tuesday.
“That is the number of people who have made the reports to us but more and more people are coming because we also have a tent at the Kenyatta National Hospital,” she said.
Naomy Wangeci was also agonising at the City Mortuary where she had been told the body of her 29-year-old brother Peter Thiga had been taken after being retrieved from the murky waters of Ngong River on Tuesday afternoon.
“Our relatives who were at the scene since morning as we went around the hospitals have told us our brother’s body has been retrieved from the river, that is why we are here at the mortuary to confirm,” she said. “We have not seen him since yesterday.”
The missing were among hundreds of people who had been siphoning fuel when a pipeline with highly flammable super petrol burst causing a massive fire that killed at least 87 people according to the Red Cross.
“Those who saw him have told us my brother was siphoning fuel, he had taken out the first jerrycan and was burnt when he went for the second when the fire occurred,” she added as she waited for a police vehicle ferrying six bodies from the scene of the fire to offload them at the City Mortuary.
At the slum where the fire occurred, grief stricken residents were still camped at the scene searching for whatever they could salvage from their burnt houses as others tried to come to terms with the sad events of the Monday morning incident.
Most of them were walking around trying to salvage scrap iron sheets left after their houses were razed as the Kenya Red Cross and other emergency workers took a head count of those affected.
“This is the spot where my house was, you can see I lost everything. My two children were burnt but I have only identified one of them whose body was found in the river,” Joseph Indeche, a father of three said.
He said it was by sheer luck that he was not around when the incident happened.
“I was at work and my wife was away in the village when this happened. I have lost my children… I can’t believe it. Why did they have to die like this yet they were not siphoning fuel? They are young children aged seven and four years,” he said before breaking to tears.