Copter crash victims burial for tomorrow

Two of the five victims of Lake Nakuru helicopter crash will be laid to rest tomorrow even as a mission to recover bodies of the other three and debris of the copter continues.

Pilot Apollo Malowa and Antony Kipyegon will be buried at their homes in Kamkwaya village, Siaya county and Toniok in Baringo county, respectively.

But families of Mapozi John, Sam Gitau and Veronica Muthoni hold onto hope that remains of their loved ones will be recovered, two weeks after the tragedy. The grief-stricken families camp on the lake shores from dawn to dusk as a team of divers comb the lake with no success, diminishing their hopes.

Officers from the Kenya Navy, Bomet county Disaster Management Unit, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Red Cross Society and geologists from the Mining ministry are involved in the search. Save for the helicopter’s door, safety kit and a file, nothing much has been recovered since the bodies of Malowa and Kipyegon two days after the crash.

The two are suspected to have jumped out of the ill-fated helicopter, leaving the other three passengers who could still be trapped in the wreckage. Cause of the crash remains unknown.

The private helicopter crashed into the lake on the morning of October 21 a few minutes after taking off. The National Disaster Operation Centre (NDOC) has called for, patience saying the team will not abandon the search until all the bodies are recovered.

The recovery team has been facing a myriad of challenges, including poor visibility and strong waves and garbage. The lake is choking in garbage because most of the waste, including raw sewage, from the town and the surrounding estates finds its way into the lake because of poor waste disposal mechanisms.

The saline lake does not support aquatic life, but according to KWS officer, some fish which had been thrown by researchers, has been washed to the shores.

“We are still appealing for calm as the operation is ongoing,” the agency said in a statement, noting that safety for everyone including search teams was paramount. There are eight boats being used in the recovery mission. Geologists have brought in a magnetometer, an equipment which detects metallic objects under water.

“We believe that if the chopper is detected, which is possible, this is going to help a great deal in the recovery of the bodies,” said Enoch Kipseba, who is leading the team of geologists.

Meanwhile, a team of counsellors from the Kenya Counselling and Psychological Association, have pitched tent at the lake, holding sessions with bereaved families.

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