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Government mobilizes rescue team for recovery mission at Likoni Channel

The  government has mobilized a multi-agency rescue team to retrieve the bodies of two occupants of a saloon vehicle that slid off the ramp and plunged into the Indian Ocean at Likoni Channel in Mombasa.

The  Government Spokesperson, Col. (Rtd) Cyrus  Oguna  said following the accident that occurred on Sunday September 29, this year at 6.15 pm, the government has initiated a rescue effort comprising of divers and other experts to recover the bodies of a woman and her daughter who perished in the accident.

Oguna  said the divers will be from Kenya Navy, Kenya Ferry Services Ltd, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Coast Guard Service and the Marine and Fisheries Research Institute.

“The team has been working round the clock since Sunday, the recovery efforts have however, been affected by bad weather and the strategic nature of the channel which is the only gateway into Mombasa port,” he said.

He  also attributed the delay to the heavy commuter traffic into Mombasa Island, and assured of the government’s commitment to ensure that the recovery effort is successfully concluded soon.

Condoling  the family of the bereaved, Oguna assured the family of government’s assistance in whatever they need.

The  Spokesperson also called on the members of the public to exercise patience as the recovery effort continues.

Oguna said the government is also putting in place measures to improve procedures at all crossing points in order to enhance the safety of commuters, to avoid similar incidents in future.

“The government is committed to the protection and safety of all Kenyans,” he reiterated.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) on Tuesday morning temporarily suspended its operation to pave way for rescue mission.

The  KFS  Managing Director, Bakari  Gowa  announced that the suspension was to allow Kenya Navy rescue team to conduct their operation without any interruption.

“The divers need a clear way to retrieve two occupants of the ill-fated saloon car that sunk in the ocean on Sunday evening,” said Gowa.

The KFS boss was briefing the media at Likoni Ferry channel on efforts to retrieve a woman and her four year old daughter who are feared dead after their saloon car veered off from a ferry and plunged into the Indian Ocean.

Efforts to rescue the victims have been unsuccessful since the tragedy took place as KFS was lacking professional divers and necessary equipment.

“We have approached the Kenya Navy to provide its divers to help retrieve the victims and the vehicle,” said Gowa.

Saying they were expecting the mission to be completed within 30 minutes, Gowa pledged that elaborate safety measures including public awareness campaign will be put in place to avoid such incidents in future.

According to the Likoni Sub County Police Commander, Benjamin Rotich, the vehicle lost breaks and reversed just before the ferry docked.

The car, a Toyota ISIS registration number KCB 289C was onboard MV Harambee and was plying to the Island side.

He said that ferry officials attempted to throw out rescue savers near the car, but the two were trapped inside the car and could not access them.

A middle aged woman who witnessed the tragedy as it unraveled said while the incident occurred they watched the car being slowly sink in the Indian Ocean because the ferry vessels does not have divers who could have rescued the woman and her child.

It  is estimated that over 400,000 passengers and 6,000 vehicles use ferry services on a daily basis.

By  KNA Team

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