The death toll in the Siaya fuel tanker tragedy rose to 17 when identification of 13 cremated bodies began Tuesday.
Grieving families marched to Yala Subdistrict Hospital, where a team from multiple facilities in Nairobi and Kisumu met to collect DNA samples from family members and the remains of the dead.
The tragedy occurred when a tanker truck collided with a milk truck in the Malanga market in Gem constituency and went up in flames on Saturday.
Liech Adoyo, the medical superintendent of Siaya County Referral Hospital, confirmed that a pregnant woman who was badly burned in the inferno was one of the two who died yesterday. “The woman was 90 percent burned and we lost her around 5:30 this morning,” said Dr. Liech.
He told the nation that the other victim – a man who was also badly burned – died that morning. The hospital treated 22 patients, most of whom had burned more than 70 percent.
The Yala Subdistrict facility had five patients with less than 30 percent burns and one in Inuka Hospital. The collection of DNA samples began at 9:30 a.m. after nearly 50 people from affected family members arrived at the Yala morgue.
Samples were taken from the 13 bodies and close family members for analysis in Kisumu.
The identification came at a time when affected families were struggling to cope with the deaths of their loved ones in the explosion that destroyed nearby corn farms in a raging fire.
At 11:30 a.m., a team made up of the government chemist, detectives from the Criminal Police Department, and officers from the National Disaster Management Unit had listed the names of the victims’ family members and taken samples.
“We are here to make sure the families register and collect forensic samples for DNA analysis at the regional pharmacy in Kisumu. The exercise was successful,” said one official.
The samples were taken from either the victims’ mothers or siblings. However, there was a challenge when it came to an orphaned girl.
“Since the child’s mother remarried and moved into the new marriage with her daughter, in this case we had to track where she was born to find one of her siblings – all of the bodies, we assume the rest is that of the child.” Girl, “said the officer.
In the afternoon, a meeting was held in Mutumbu in which the inter-agency team, Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, and the families concerned were supposed to collect data and exchange current information on the tragedy.
“We expect the test results to be in the next three or so days so we can identify the bodies and begin burial preparations,” Odhiambo said.
So far, only the four people who died while receiving treatment at the referral hospital have been identified. An interdenominational devotional service for the grieving families is planned for tomorrow.