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Residents mill around the dam as rescuers retrieve bodies. No professional divers had come to their aid. PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE

By NYABOGA KIAGE, [email protected]

At least six people died after a 14-seater matatu they were travelling in plunged into a dam on Monday night. The accident happened at Clay Works on the Thika Superhighway.

By Tuesday afternoon, it was not clear how many bodies were still trapped in the water as the rescue mission was ongoing.

However, rescuers told the Nation they could see more bodies in the dam.

Witnesses said the matatu veered off the road as it headed to the city.

Mr Peterson Waruru, a survivor, said he was seated near the door and it was hard for him to open it and swim to safety.

PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE

PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE

‘SWAM TO SHORE’

“I tried to open the door but couldn’t … However, I managed to get out through the window and swam to the shore,” said Mr Waruru.

He said the matatu had 10 passengers.

Locals said three bodies were recovered immediately after the accident. The matatu was also retrieved from the dam.

“The rescue mission started last night and we had to stop until today because it was getting late,” said Mr Justus Warui, a local.

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He said by that time only Mr Waruru had managed to come out of the dam alive.

By Tuesday evening, residents were still gathered at the scene as they cheered whenever rescuers retrieved a body. Some watched in shock while others took pictures and videos using their mobile phones.

The accident saw angry locals and matatu operators barricade the busy Thika Superhighway as they demanded that a fence be erected around the dam.

PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE

PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE

BODIES ON ROAD

The demonstrators would at times carry the retrieved bodies and place them in the middle of the road.

Police were forced to use teargas canisters to disperse the demonstrators who had paralysed transport along the highway for four hours. “We want the Kenya National Highways Authority to put up a fence around the dam because it is turning out to be a death trap,” said Ms Jane Kimotho, a local.

Mr Caleb Motari, a student at the United States International University, said he was forced to walk to college because of the heavy traffic snarl-up.

He said matatu operators took advantage to raise fares. “I decided to walk to school due to the heavy traffic jam between Kahawa and Roysambu,” he said.

Residents said many lives have previously been lost at the dam.

“Many children have died in this dam and we want the authorities to find a permanent solution,” said Ms Susan Atieno, a local.

Two weeks ago, she said, a man died after he slipped into the dam while having a bath at the shore.

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