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State to give Sh50,000 to families that lost kin in mudslides, floods

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JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG’AT
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EVANS KIPKURA

By EVANS KIPKURA
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The government will give Sh50,000 to each of the families that lost their loved ones during landslides and flash floods in Chesegon along Marakwet-Pokot border a week ago.

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya on Sunday said the money is to cover burial expenses.

“They will also get more donations to help rebuild their lives after the tragedy,” added Mr Natembeya.

The government will also pay for DNA tests to identify the bodies and body parts found during the search.

So far 18 bodies have been found with over 20 still unaccounted for.

He ruled out resumption of the search for the missing, saying they had done their best before the operation was called off last Thursday.

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“This tragedy is something we have never seen before. Huge rocks came from the hills with people totally battering their bodies into pieces. What we got downstream was just body parts. It will not be possible to get any more bodies, maybe just parts. Let us just accept this fact,” Mr Natembeya told the Nation.

He also said the government will conduct food distribution to the displaced.

On Sunday, families embarked on the torturous search for their missing loved ones as North Rift leaders piled pressure on the government to resume the exercise three days after leaving the site.

Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said it was wrong for the government to leave the site before people found closure for those yet to be found.

“Twenty-three bodies are still missing in Marakwet landslide tragedy. These people are searching for their loved ones. Regional Coordinator George Natembeya and the military went there, took pictures and left. Meanwhile thousands of them are without shelter. What the is going on in this country?” posed Mr Murkomen.

Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar also said the government’s search team left too soon saying it should have spent more time there.

“I will recommend for the government to continue its presence in the place. Families will not just leave there. They will still be there hoping to find their loved ones,” said Ms Kamar.

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On Sunday, dozens of residents removed from huge rocks to the mounds of muddy soils hoping to stumble upon the bodies of those still unaccounted for.

Since Friday, they had only found dismembered parts dimming hopes of finding intact bodies.

The search, according to the team constituted by the area leadership, had been constrained by thick sludge and huge rocks.

The team’s leader Noah Kiptoo from Liter said the Marakwet tradition gives great respect to members of the society who have died.

“Even though the operation was called off by the government, we cannot just let our people get lost like that. We will try as much as possible to account for the 23 people who are still missing from the tragedy,” he said on Sunday.

According to a list of names of the missing people shared with the Nation by the area MP Kangogo Bowen, the total number of people unaccounted for spreads across the villages around Chesegon shopping centre and the Embobut escarpment where the floods started from.

Even as the frantic search continues, hundreds of families displaced by the floods in Kipchumwa, Kobil and Katiliit locations are still camping in Wewo AIC church, spending the night in cold with kids and scarcity of basic amenities to keep them there.

Ms Nasaline Jerop, 28 who is camping at the church said her 12-year-old daughter Mercy Jemutai, 12, a pupil at Tendwo Primary School, was still missing.

“I still don’t know where my daughter is until today. I will be very happy and will have a rest when she will be found even if dead. Laying her to rest will be the most perfect solution to what I’m feeling right now,” said Ms Jerop.

Samuel Kirotich, 47, said his daughter Jerop Kilimo, 8, a Standard Three pupil at Katiliit Primary School had gone to visit her grandmother in Kakisoo village when the disaster happened.

“As everyone was trying to save their lives, my daughter, probably due to her young age and lack of energy to rush to safer grounds was caught up in floods and swept away,” he said.





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