- Title: Kenya starts to bury victims of devastating mudslide
- Date: 11th December 2019
- Summary: MAN STICKING PAPER WITH IMAGE OF MUDSLIDE VICTIM ON COFFIN VARIOUS OF COFFINS AT FUNERAL SERVICE
- Embargoed: 25th December 2019 15:31
- Keywords: mass funeral service mudslide mudslide victims unusually heavy rains
- Location: KAPENGURIA AND LELAN, WEST POKOT COUNTY, KENYA
- City: KAPENGURIA AND LELAN, WEST POKOT COUNTY, KENYA
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents
- Reuters ID: LVA002B9J85EF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Relatives, Governments officials and members of the public gathered at a stadium in Kapenguria, northwestern Kenya on Tuesday (December 10) to honour victims of a mudslide that killed at least 50 people last month.
Kenya is experiencing a heavier than usual rainy season, the Kenya Meteorological Department said in early November.
The rains have forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in the region, aid groups say.
The downpour which began on November 22 in West Pokot County, worsened overnight, causing flooding and mudslides that swept away four bridges and left villages inaccessible by road.
The bodies of 25 victims were released to families for burial, after being identified.
"Over 50 people dead, including those that we cannot trace. There are about 16 people buried in the soils. We still hope, together with the combined efforts of the national government and friends and NGOs we should be able to trace them. So here today we are releasing these people and from tomorrow burials will go on in various areas. We want to thank the international community for those who responded," said West Pokot County governor, John Lonyangapuo.
"My only appeal now is - our county is the most mountainous county, and the mountains are too steep. We have also valleys, we want to come to now the last phase where we want to think of how these mountains can be managed. People are staying to the tip of the mountain and we will be approaching the UN-Habitat, THE UN environment wing and the national government to see how we can be able to possibly get alternative land for those that are staying in areas that are becoming very risky," added Lonyangapuo.
Ronald Rotich lost two of his nephews in the tragedy. The family and other residents are now camping at a nearby school after their houses were swept away.
"I found the house had been washed away, we went there and only the roof was visible. We removed the roof, we found clothes, we found shoes of the two boys, then we found more clothes, and a blanket buried in the mud. We dug out the mud and found my nephews had died," said Rotich.
"When the noise started, I woke up I found the iron roofed house had been swept away. My four boys were in there. One of them cried out saying 'mama I am here, come and help me.' I rushed there holding a torch and got him out of the mud. He was seated, I held his hand and brought him to my kitchen. I cried out for help loudly from midnight up to 4 in the morning. People came and took him to Kapenguria hospital. I had ten children -- one girl. Three of them died in the mudslide," said Chepkamoi Loyalan.
Researchers have warned that warming oceans are causing unpredictable weather patterns in East Africa.
(Maina Katasi, Donna Omulo)
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