Wangui Githugo and George Kebaso
Families and friends of Gikomba market fire victims yesterday gathered at the Chiromo Mortuary to aid in identify bodies of their loved ones.
The exercise, conducted by the Government Chemist, indicated that there are 17 bodies currently lying at the morgue with nine burnt beyond recognition.
Chiromo Head of Human Anatomy Peter Gichangi said DNA sampling through scientific, physical and fingerprints identification would be performed to aid in identifying bodies of victims who were burnt beyond recognition.
He said 22 people are still admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) with multiple injuries with one at the Burns Unit.
“We would like to confirm that all families have been able to view the bodies but some of them will have to go through longer tests. For each body, we have taken two different samples that will be subjected to DNA as we start the extraction process,” said Gichangi.
As the families braved the cold weather and more than eight hours of waiting for the day’s procedures to be completed, an old couple from Kabete could not hide the pain of not knowing the whereabouts of their son, who they claim has not been in touch with them for more than a year.
Sixty-eight-year-old Geoffrey Mungai and his wife Sarah Wanjiru were among the first families to arrive at the mortuary in search of their son, David Gathiaka, alias Abdalla, who worked at Gikomba as a tailor.
According to the two, they lost touch with their son after a similar fire incident last year where they learnt that Abdallah’s business was affected and his machines destroyed.
“Our son had converted to Islam and we last saw him last year before the Gikomba fire. He has remained out of reach since then,” said Mungai.
Yesterday, Interior ministry representative Canon Owino called on county governments to help cater for transport costs even as the National government said it will cater for burial expenses.
Meanwhile, a confrontation is looming between traders at Gikomba and the Nairobi county government. An attempt by the traders to rebuild their stalls was faced with resistance by county officers.
Governor Mike Sonko Mbuvi, who was expected to visit the market yesterday postponed the tour after the situation threatened to turn chaotic.
The fire, which broke out on Thursday at 2am, gutted over 1,000 timber yards and nearby residential quarters.