‘I lost three children in the landslide horror’

Leah Chemnee who survived the mudslide at Parua and Nyarkulian recuperating at Kapenguria County Hospital. [Courtesy/Standard]

Leah Chemnee, 23, sits on her bed at the Kapenguria County Hospital lost in thoughts.

She is among survivors of the landslide that hit Pokot South on Friday night, leaving 50 people dead. Her’s is a tale of horror shared by those that made it out of muddy tombs on a night that death visited several villages in the area. She recalled that at 11pm, she heard a huge stone landing outside her house. Three minutes later, her house started shaking and ground broke loose before her own eyes.

Chemnee says were it not for screams from her daughter who attracted her in-laws, she would have been swallowed by the mud. “As the house buckled, my daughter screamed attracting attention of my in-laws who responded and rescued me. I lost three children who were swept to their death. Their bodies were found metres away from the house,” she said. Julius Ptakawu, a teacher, lost his son, a student at Chewoyet High School. His two daughters who survived are admitted at Kapenguria County Hospital with injuries.

He said he managed to escape from the avalanche, but his three children were caught up in raging mud as they went to rescue their neighbours. Ptakawu’s wife escaped unhurt.

Five children aged below 12 years are admitted at the county hospital together with their father who in a critical condition. The children’s mother was unlucky as she was buried alive. Chepyatich Tuliareng, the children’s neighbour, is now taking care of the minors at the hospital. “The youngest, who is eight months old, broke his leg. The other four children have been treated and are responding well. The father of the children is the one admitted in critical condition,” she said. Joseph Krop, who is nursing his brother whose hands and legs were broken, said he lost three brothers in the incident. “He is my only surviving brother. Our twin brothers aged 12 years and their elder brother aged 13 were all buried in the mud,” he said.

At the county hospital morgue, William Lokapel was yesterday still trying to come to terms with the loss of his three daughters. Mr Lokapel who went to identify the bodies said the three were swept away by the mudslide, but their mother survived and is admitted at the hospital. “It is a big blow to the family having lost over five relatives at ago,” said Mr Lokapel. At the Kapenguria County Hospital, 16 of the victims admitted on Saturday are from Pokot South Constituency. Two were treated and discharged from the hospital. Health Executive Geoffrey Lipale said the mortuary received nine bodies.

He said the morgue does not have the capacity to accommodate all the recovered bodies and some had been transferred to hospitals at the nearby Kitale town in Trans Nzoia County. Dr Mbandi Victor said the county hospital was on high alert and an orthopedic surgeon was at hand to attend to patients with bone injuries.

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