Passengers escape death as agency calls for caution

Passengers escape death as agency calls for caution

- in News

Forty passengers narrowly escaped death early Saturday morning after a bus was swept away by a flash flood on the Kitale-Lodwar highway in Turkana County.

The passengers were heading to Lodwar when they were trapped at Kainuk Bridge on the Turkana-West Pokot border by flood water at 2am.

The driver of the Eldoret Express unsuccessfully tried to drive across a seasonal river in Kalemorok.

The bus was swept off the damaged bridge and rolled on its side.

After overturning, it got stuck in the mud and rocks, giving passengers an opportunity to escape through the windows.

They stood on the side of the bus as they waited to be rescued.

Kenya Red Cross officials, assisted by travellers in other vehicles, led the rescue mission.

Mr James Kisike, a Kitale resident, said that at around 2am the bus driver tried to force his way through the rising water but got stuck midway.

Mr Kisike said that the driver ignored advice from fellow drivers who were waiting for the water levels to subside.

“The bus that was full to capacity and with heavy luggage, which included fruits and vegetables, fell on one side forcing occupants to struggle through windows and step on the side of the vehicle and ask for help,” he said.

Mr Kisike said that all the occupants were rescued by fellow motorists and residents of Kalemorok, Turkana County; and by 10am “vehicles were able to pass just near the bus”.

Eldoret Express Service Company Lodwar Manager John Kimani said the bus had 40 passengers at the time of the incident, confirming that all of them were rescued and booked in other buses and proceeded to Lodwar.

National Disaster Management Unit Deputy Director Pius Masai on Friday warned members of public to be wary about flash floods during the rainy season.

“We also call upon the County Disaster Teams to always respond and assist in search and rescue mission in case of such incidents.

“Members of public should also be sensitized to avoid similar incidents,” Mr Masai said.

Turkana County primarily relies on the Kitale-Lodwar-Nadapal Road, on which the damaged bridge is located, for transportation of over 90 per cent of food supplies from West Pokot, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties.

Kenya National Highways Authority has since restricted motorists from using the 150 meters-long bridge as they work on a quick solution.

In a public advisory to motorists and members of public, the agency said that because of rains within the Northern and Western parts of the country, Kainuk Bridge is not safe for use.

The bridge serves as a crucial link between Marich Pass in West Pokot County and Lokichar in Turkana County.

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