An 80 Year-Old Grandma Still Missing After Yesterday's Gakira Landslide.


An 80 year old woman is still missing after torrential rains triggered a massive landslide at Gakíra village, near Maríira Township in Murang'a County.

According to eyewitness account, an avalanche of sand entirely buried two homesteads and destroyed about 2 Acres of crops at around 2:00 pm local time as most of those affected were in their lunch break.

When Thika Town Today team went to the scene for the second day running, tens of rescuers were sifting through the rubble looking for Tabitha Njeri who was said to have last been seen near her cow pen after the landslide left everything covered in soil and mud, leaving behind massive destruction on the affected farm.

"It was around 2p.m. when we heard some loud bang and the eucalyptus trees falling off. On realizing that it was a landslide, everyone in the neighbourhood ran for safety. Shosho (Tabitha) is said to have been near her cow pen but we are not sure if she had left the scene before the avalanche, said Elias Ndirangu, who is a grandson to the missing person.

He added that the neighbours raised the alarm after seeing their friends’ houses disappear in the sand and neighbours rushed to the scene but no one dared to go near as two more landslides simultaneously collapsed.

The cause of the landslide was not established but they suspected underground swamp and the heavy rains have been pounding the area for weeks, consequently soaking up the soil.

Area MP Jamleck Kamau and Kigumo Deputy County Commission Moses Mbaruku, who were the first leaders to reach at the scene, mobilised the locals, armed with hoes, spades, folks and power saws in attempt to clear the debris. The villagers were doing their best to dig into the mud to at least retrieve the body of the old lady who they suspected to be trapped in the rubble.

Speaking to the press during the exercise, Jamleck said that as a community they were saddened by the incident and the absence of the old lady, 20 hours later was hard to bear.

“Our priority here is first to find ‘mama’. I have mobilised the people to try and find her in this rubble if at all she is still trapped underneath. It is a very difficult task considering that the terrain is makes it very difficult for machinery to climb downstream. However, we have requested for services from both the national and county rescue team to come to our aid,” said the MP.

He added that such disasters would be well catered for by the 1.7billion disaster management fund that was extended to the county governments late last year.

He urged any of the residents who felt threatened by a possible landslide to relocate until the rains subsided adding that areas with had weak soils could easily break due to excess rainfall.

“We are sending out a word of caution to those living in areas which are likely to experience landslides to be extra careful and move to safer grounds,”

Confirming the incident, the DCC said that 7 families constituting to 18 members were affected. He added the collapsing of the land may have been caused by the heavy rains and an underground swamp which soaked the soil thus weakening the base of the ground.

He said that they were doing everything possible to minimise potential dangers and comfort the affected families. He asked residents to be on high alert following heavy rains that were pounding the area where most parts are prone to landslides adding that some of the families had been forced to move out of their land after a crack was noted on the ground.

“We have evacuated them and re-located them to Mariira Farm. One house has completely been submerged with another left hanging. We got them out and we were done with the evacuation process. Now we're just triple-checking, confirming that everyone is safe and sound and everyone is accounted for,” said Mbaruku.

Two cows and about 5500 tea buses have been swept off and covered by the debris.

He also warned motorists using the Kigumo-Kangari Road that the affected section was no very safe since it was so near to the landslide.

“We have talked with the relevant road department to divert this part of the road, about 100m from this spot since it may too collapse. Emergency team is still investigating to see whether they will close any part of this road or issue additional public-safety warnings for the area,” he said.

Murang’a County is among the most landslides prone areas in the country with several cases being reported in the past. Landslides and flooding remain serious natural disasters normally experienced during heavy rains.
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