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DNA will delay burial of 9 Gikomba fire tragedy victims: official

A relative overcome by emotions at the Chiromo Mortuary on Monday. Photo/MUTHONI NJUKI.

NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 2 – Nine families whose relatives perished in last week’s Gikomba fire tragedy will have to wait for one month, to bury their loved ones, because authorities are relying on a DNA exercise to identify them.

17 people were burnt to death in the inferno that flattened the city’s largest open-air market, in what many say is a case of arson blamed on rivalry between traders or private developers eying prime plots at the banks of Nairobi River.

Chiromo mortuary head of human anatomy Prof. Peter Gichangi says it will take at least 30 days to match the DNA samples taken from relatives against those extracted from the bodies.

Professor Gichangi said they are working on the eight other bodies which are identifiable to ensure they are released to families for burial from Wednesday.

“Tracing, Identification, and post-mortem activities have been completed,” he said of the exercise that lasted more than 6 hours, ““We anticipate the individuals who are not here to be able to view their loved ones from Wednesday when we have prepared the bodies. Relatives should not come tomorrow.”

According to authorities, 22 people are still admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital, while 50 others have been discharged.

Those who spoke to Capital News, however, wanted the process expedited, “as the continued wait will only prolong their suffering.

Others said they wanted to transfer the bodies to mortuaries near their rural areas for ease of burial plans.

“Kenyatta University mortuary will be more convenient for us since my brother will be buried in our maternal home in Muranga County,” Teresia Wanjiku told Capital News, “why must it take long to release the body while we have positively identified it?”

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And for Godfrey Gitonga, who lost his wife, “The pain is unbearable. I really hope the wait will not be punishing as well.”

He wanted to transfer the remains of her wife and child to Meru County.

Those who were yet to identify their kin urged authorities to hasten the process to enable them commence burial arrangements.

The Government has pledged to cater for all the burial expenses for the all the victims.

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