According to a government minister’s statement on Saturday, the number of casualties from a horrifying road accident in western Kenya has now climbed to 49. As rescuers strive to clear the wreckage, there are apprehensions about the potential presence of more trapped victims.
Police in Kenya reported that on Friday evening, a truck transporting a shipping container veered off course and collided with multiple vehicles and people at a busy road junction. This tragic accident ranks among the deadliest in the country in recent years.
‘Unfortunately, we lost 49 people in an accident here in Londiani,’ Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen addressed the media while visiting the site of the accident.
‘Investigations have been launched to establish the cause of this accident but we urge drivers to be cautious and follow the rules,’ he said.
The search for crash victims has recommenced as rescuers return to the scene. The tragic accident took place on a highway that links the lakeside town of Nakuru and the tea plantation-rich region of Kericho.
‘The search has resumed and we want to remove two of the bodies in the wreckage, we don’t know if they are more,’ Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Abdi Hassan provided updates on the situation.
According to Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Abdi Hassan, over 30 persons sustained injuries as a result of the truck colliding with cars, minibuses, boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), and market stalls at the bustling Londiani junction.
Footage recorded at the scene on Friday night displayed the overturned truck and the wreckage of multiple vehicles, with minibus doors torn off and debris strewn across the road. Despite heavy rain, rescuers continued their operations.
Late on Friday, officials had initially reported a death toll of 48. However, the fate of the truck driver remained uncertain and was not immediately clarified by the authorities.
After the accident, condolences poured in from Kenyan leaders, President William Ruto among them. Social media platforms were abuzz with the trending hashtag, as individuals posted solemn pictures on Twitter. These images featured a candle next to the word ‘Londiani,’ denoting sympathy and unity in the face of the tragedy.
‘The accident happened in a flash, many of them had no time to escape,’ said one bystander, Joel Rotich.
‘There was a lot of confusion because people were screaming all over and everyone was running after the accident.’
In a bid to prevent future catastrophes, Murkomen disclosed on Saturday that the government is actively planning the relocation of street traders from roadside areas to designated markets.
In his address, Murkomen stressed the significance of implementing increased safety protocols at the accident site. Additionally, he appealed to long-distance truck drivers, urging them to prioritize regular rest breaks and undergo refresher courses. These initiatives are crucial in promoting road safety and preventing similar incidents.
According to statistics provided by Kenya’s National Transport and Safety Authority, last year witnessed a distressing total of 21,760 people involved in road accidents. Among these incidents, 4,690 fatalities were reported.
September’s report by the World Health Organization brought attention to a grim fact: Africa ranks highest in the world for road traffic fatalities. The region experiences over 800 deaths daily.