, MOMBASA, Kenya, Oct 11 – The car that sunk into the Indian Ocean 13 days ago with a mother and her daughter was retrieved Friday.
The vehicle was retrieved in a combined effort of a multi-agency team that brought together divers and other experts from the Kenya Navy, Kenya Ferry Services among others.
They were being assisted by professional divers from South Africa.
The day-long exercise was undertaken by the use of a crane and several boats.
With Mashujaa Day celebrations drawing closer, officials said, a team mandated to retrieve the car and bodies were under pressure to ensure the incident does not become an embarrassment after a section of coast residents vowed to stay away from the event if the bodies will not have been retrieved by Sunday.
Locals had accused the government of taking too long to retrieve the vehicle even after Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna assured that it was to be brought out on Thursday.
The vehicle, a Toyota ISIS, slid off ferry MV Harambee ferry on the evening of September 29, in what exposed inefficiencies and security risks in the ferry operations.
Witnesses said there was no attempt by any emergency team to rescue the two, with onlookers watching helplessly as the vehicle sank with Mariam Kigenda, 35, and her 4-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu.
On Wednesday, Oguna said the divers had sighted the vehicle adding efforts were being made to carefully retrieve the car with the bodies of the victims intact.
“We had high hopes that the car would be retrieved by the end of today (Thursday) evening. However, the high speed under currents made it impossible to tie the vehicle and pull it up,” said Oguna.
“We have confirmed that there are bodies in the vehicle. If that vehicle didn’t have bodies in it, we could have retrieved it long time ago.”