Mutuku Mwangangi and Silas Mwiti
At least 19 people perished and 20 others were seriously injured when the bus they were travelling in burst into flames on colliding head-on with a lorry at Sultan Hamud on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.
Survivors and witnesses described the accident as “a scene from hell” because of a huge ball of fire that engulfed the bus upon impact.
Police said nine of the passengers were confirmed dead while 10 others who could not be accounted for are feared to have been burned beyond recognition.
The bus, belonging to Buscar, was headed to Mombasa, with passengers. Twenty escaped with serious injuries and were admitted to various hospitals in critical condition.
Kilungu OCPD Paul Odede confirmed the Wednesday morning accident. The trailer was headed to Nairobi.
“Nine people were burnt beyond recognition, while 20 others sustained serious injuries. Four are in critical condition. At the moment we can not trace 10 people, whom we suspect may have been reduced to ashes,” he said.
He added: “For now, we cannot tell the exact cause of the tragedy but we can’t rule out speeding because of the impact. However, it was raining at the time, presumably making visibility difficult for the drivers,” he said
“The driver of the bus seemingly miscalculated while attempting to overtake, which was worsened with low visibility due to mist,” said Odede.
He said the lorry driver was among the dead. Police were waiting for the bus manifest to establish the exact number of people it was carrying.
A passenger in the bus Clement Wachira said many people who were unable to escape through the windows perished in the bus.
“I was jolted by the screeching of emergency brakes followed by a bang and the wailing of passengers shouting ‘fire!’” he said.
By the time he scrambled among other passengers to jump out of the bus, its cabin was in flames.
Another survivor and a businessman Richard Mulei from Machakos county said he lost goods worth Sh120,000.
“If it was not for prayers, I would be dead now. Prayers saved me, because I prayed thrice before the accident. I even called my wife and urged her to pray for us after I sensed something was wrong,” he said.
He accused the driver of the ill-fated bus of speeding. Among the passengers was a teacher and pupils of Born Free Academy in Githurai 44, going to Mombasa.
The teacher and one pupil perished, while two boys survived.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Red Cross set up a help desk at Kilome Nursing Home to help relatives trace their kin.
Police said bodies burnt beyond recognition would be taken for DNA analysis at Chiromo Mortuary in Nairobi.
At the same time, two women were killed by speeding vehicles in separate accidents.
In the first accident, a woman heading home from a shopping centre was hit and killed by a speeding car at the notorious Karai black spot on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
An eyewitness Peter Wambugu said the elderly woman died on the spot. The vehicle did not stop after the accident.
“We are saddened by the state of affairs in this section because we attend burials every week from road accidents,” he said and called for the erection of bumps.
A local leader James Kabono said at least two people are killed every week in the area and pointed to speeding as the root cause.
And in the second accident, a woman who was looking after her animals was hit and killed by a pick-up truck involved in the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway near Kigecha area on Mai Mahiu-Narok highway.
An eyewitness Solomon Nasilu said the truck driver lost control and hit the woman standing on the roadside, killing her on the spot. Naivasha OCPD Samuel Waweru said the two bodies were taken to the Naivasha sub-county hospital mortuary.