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Rains, murky sea hamper salvage operation as search for ferry tragedy victims enters fourth day

A police boat is seen patrolling the Likoni channel on Monday, September 30, a day after a station wagon slid off  a ferry plunging into the sea /FILE – CFM

MOMBASA, Kenya, Oct 3 – Ongoing rains, bad weather in the sea, high tides, murky waters and poor visibility underneath the ocean have been blamed for the pro-longed operation to try and retrieve the bodies of the two occupants of a car that plunged in the ocean at the Likoni crossing channel on Sunday.

Government Spokesperson Col. Cyrus Oguna Thursday said the Navy has all the capabilities to locate and retrieve the bodies of Marima Kighenda ,35, and her four-year-old daughter, Amanda Mutheu.

Kighenda, a 35-year-old mother and her daughter were in the ill-fated Toyota ISIS that unexpectedly reversed while the ferry was still midstream.

The Navy is yet to locate the exact area where the vehicle could be, four days after the disaster.

“This place is very dark, it needs a lot of time for our divers to search through,” said Oguna.

He said the reports that the vehicle floated for about 20 minutes on water on that Sunday evening were unfounded.

“I want to clarify, that the vehicle took only a minute and few seconds on water before it sunk. The reports that it took 20 minutes or eight minutes are not correct,” he said.

Oguna expressed optimism that they might be able to retrieve the bodies by the end of the day on Thursday.

Likoni Member of Parliament Mishi Mboko, who accompanied Oguna during the media briefing, defended of the management of the Kenya Ferry Service (KFS) and the Kenya Navy over the unfortunate Sunday incident.

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“We should give Navy a chance to continue with the search because the truth of the matter is that this channel is very deep and dark inside. That is why I believe the government has taken long to complete the operation,” said Mboko.

Mboko came to the channel four days after the incident.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho paid a visit to the Likoni ferry crossing channel on Wednesday after Mombasa residents faulted local leaders whom they accused of whom no concern over the incident.

Mboko defended KFS saying it lacks adequate government funding to employ divers and purchase standby boats to respond to disasters.

“It is true we need to have divers at the channel, but this is means adequate funding should be given to KFS to ensure that they can employ divers,” she said.

The Likoni MP asked KFS Managing Director Bakari Gowa to prepare a proposal to the National Assembly for additional funding for their operations.

“If you do not have enough funding, lets us have that proposal in parliament so that we can push for the adequate funding because you need to be well facilitated,” she said.

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