A sombre mood engulfed Kivwe village in Embu County on Saturday during the burial of 15 people who died in a road accident last week.
Mourners, including political leaders, turned out in large numbers at the remote village in Mbeere North to give the departed ones a decent send off.
Tears flowed as coffins bearing the remains of the victims, the majority who were related, were lowered to the graves at different homesteads after a funeral service at Kivwe Primary School.
Some of the mourners fainted during the ceremony. Speaker after speaker eulogised the victims as senior citizens who did not deserve to die.
The Muminji Ward MCA Newton Kariuki called on the government to carry out thorough investigations to establish the cause of the accident. All the victims, majority elderly people, were from the same village.
According to the residents, this is the first tragedy of such a magnitude to strike since independence.
“I have never witnessed such a terrible accident in this area, we have lost so many people at once and the entire village has been thrown into mourning," Mr Danson Njue, 60, said.
In the family of Mzee Babiniano Ngari, two people succumbed to their injuries during the accident.
Mr Ngari lost his wife, Gaundecia Mucogo, 62, and his mother-in-law Zabetha Mati, 80, who were laid to rest yesterday.
Mucogo had accompanied her mother-in-law, Mati to Siakago Sub-County headquarters to register for Inua Jamii cash transfer programme when the bus they were travelling in plunged into Thura River. The duo died on the spot.
A relative, Mr Ignitious Muriithi told Nation.Africa that the accident dealt a big blow to the entire family.
"I have lost both my mother and grandmother to the accident," he said.
At the neighbouring homestead, Ms Ivorata Ngithi, 90, who perished in the accident was also being buried. Ngithi, was going to Siakago for the same mission when she met her death.
Ms Ngithi's son, John Kariuki, escaped death by a whisker to tell the sad story. He suffered hip injuries.
In another homestead, Nyonga Mbitero, 91, was crushed to death. She was buried yesterday.
A mother of nine children, Emily Kavuvu was also among those who lost their lives. Kavuvu was taking her mother -in-law, Juliana Mati, 80, to Siakago Sub-County headquarters to register for Inua Jamii cash transfer programme. Mati is fighting for her life at Siakago Sub-County Hospital.
Some of the victims died when they were thrown out of the bus into the river due to impact.
"A big number of the victims drowned," a resident Ibrahim Njuki told Nation.Africa.
Mr Njuki recalled how they pulled out bodies of old people from the water as they rescued the survivors.
"It was a tiresome job but we managed to save the lives of more than 40 victims who had been trapped in the vehicle," said Mr Njuki.
During the accident, the driver and the owner of the vehicle fled and they are being sought by the police. It is believed that the driver jumped out of the bus and fled as the vehicle was reversing after developing a mechanical problem.
The bus with a capacity of 42 passengers was carrying more than 60 people, in total disregard to traffic rules.
The bus reversed and rolled several times before it hit a drift and went tumbling down into the Thura River, killing 11 people on the spot. Four others succumbed to their injuries while undergoing treatment.
Elizabeth Wanjagi said: “I survived by the grace of God. A few kilometres into the journey, the bus stalled after running out of fuel.”
She added: “Later, the vehicle’s brakes failed and it rolled down the hill before it plunged into the river as passengers screamed in panic.”