21 still in hospital after Mai Mahiu tragedy

 David Maina

 Mr David Maina, a survivor of the Mai Mahiu flooding tragedy, recuperates at the Naivasha Sub-county Hospital in Nakuru County on April 30, 2024

Photo credit: Joseph Openda | Nation Media Group

Twenty-one people are still in hospital after surviving the deadly floods that swept through four villages in Mai Mahiu, Nakuru County, on Monday, killing 48 people.

Among them are 10 men, nine women, and two children, who owe their narrow escape to the swift action of responders and medical personnel.

Nation understands that two doctors, who shunned the ongoing nationwide strike by their colleagues, played a key role in saving the lives of tens of victims.

The medical superintendent at Naivasha Sub-county Hospital, Dr Bernard Warui, told Nation on Tuesday that the two doctors worked alongside clinical officers and nurses.

Of the total casualties, 15 were treated and discharged, 23 were hospitalised, while one patient was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) in critical condition. Dr Warui explained that the patient, who had suffered head injuries, died during the night while still in the ICU. This brings the death toll to 48 up from Monday’s count of 46 after one more body was retrieved from the scene yesterday.

Meanwhile, independent investigations by Nation have revealed that the tragedy could have been prevented if government agencies had acted promptly to drain water that was accumulating in a clogged tunnel at the Old Kijabe railway line.

The tunnel had started filling with water last week, and some residents were warned of the impending danger.

According to a local Nyumba Kumi official, Mr Zachary Maina, concerns about the development were raised early last week, but no action was taken.

“We noticed that water in the tunnel was rising on Tuesday last week. I immediately informed the assistant chief and the ward rep. Although they tried to warn downstream residents to relocate, their efforts were in vain,” Mr Maina told Nation.

Residents corroborated Mr Maina’s account, saying heavy rains worsened the situation.

“No attempts were made to drain the water,” said Mr Charles Kimani, a local resident.

Locals also blamed the tunnel’s location and the accumulation of silt from Kinare Forest and Kijabe Hills for the tragedy.

“River Tongi is seasonal but heavy rains upstream caused the water levels to rise,” another resident explained.

The Ministry of Water confirmed that the tragedy resulted from the tunnel under the railway embankment becoming blocked with debris.

“River Tongi and its tributaries burst their banks, leading to formation of a huge pool besides the railway line and due to force of pressure, the water eventually swept past the railway line and started moving downstream at high velocity,” the ministry said in a statement. Water Cabinet Secretary Zachariah Njeru said the only dam in the area, Matches Dam,is in good condition.

Water Resources Authority chief executive Mohamed Shurie had told Nation on Monday that the floods originated from a deep gully formed by erosion.