Friday, October 05, 2007

Kuvasali Landslide

A photo from the Daily Nation Newspaper shows rescuers at Kuvasali.
(On the upper-left a hut can be seen covered to the roof)

In mid-August the village of Kuvasali was hit by a devastating landslide, killing eight people. Kuvasali is a village on the edge of the Nandi Hills 30 to 45 minutes east of Malava. The disaster happened in the middle of the night when a large area of soil from the tops of the hills, loosened by the heavy rains, came crashing down on the village covering many of the huts to the roofs with soil, while the people slept. Shortly after, a rescue team came to dig the victims out when again another landslide occurred, covering some of the rescuers. Most of the victims are thought to have died from the impact of the heavy soil landing on them, while others are thought to have suffocated when buried alive.

Eight caskets contain the bodies of the victims

Eventually the Red Cross arrived and, with the help of many people from Malava and other neighboring villages, they began to pull the dead bodies one-by-one from the mountain of red soil. While I didn’t see it first-hand, I am told that it was a sad sight and many families of those trapped were gathered around wailing and crying over their loss. After three weeks of digging in the muddy soil as the heavy rains continued all eight of the victims bodies were recovered.

Thousands of people line up for the prayer service

On a Sunday, early in September, there was an interdenominational prayer service held on the grounds of the police station in Malava. The choir from St. Teresa parish came to sing hymns and Father Paul, the pastor, was called to pray over the bodies. The story was covered by the Daily Nation and East African Standard Newspapers. Father Paul appeared in the Standard. Thousands were in attendance. People lined the roads to the police station to see what was happening. Many sat on the roofs of vehicles and shops nearby to see over the crowd.

People ride their bikes to the service and line the roadside

The choir sang and somebody read an account of the disaster and the rescue operation. One rescuer recalled a vivid dream in which one of the dead victims came to them to tell them the exact location of where their body could be found. And sure enough that was where it was retrieved.

It was a beautiful service in remembrance of those that died and it helped to give closure to their families.

A politician speaks from a podium at the prayer service

Unfortunately, because it is an election year in Kenya, many politicians used it as a venue to rally and after the prayers ended the campaign speeches began. Heads of the local government went back and forth placing blame on each other and what moments before the people placed in God’s hands was now wrongfully placed in the hands of human beings.

No comments: