A rescue mission coordinated by Kenya Navy divers late Saturday night retrieved 23 bodies of members of Mwingi Catholic Church choir who perished after the bus they were traveling in plunged into Enziu River in Mwingi East area of Kitui County on Saturday.

The bodies have since been airlifted by Kenya Airforce jets to Mwingi and Kyuso Mortuaries, while 10 survivors who were rescued, were rushed to Mwingi Level Four Hospital for emergency treatment.

Fifteen of the dead are from the family whose 70-year-old parents were to solemnise their marriage. 

The ill-fated bus is said to have had 68 passengers on board, an excess of 17 passengers, meaning that about 35 persons are yet to be accounted for.

According to Kitui County Police Commander Leah Kithei, the 51-seater bus belonging to Mwingi Junior Seminary, a Catholic Church- run private school, was ferrying the choir members to Nuu area from Mwingi town to attend a wedding ceremony.

Ms Kithei said police were at the scene to coordinate the rescue efforts which were hampered by the raging waters.

Watched helplessly

“We are hoping to rescue as many people as we can. Sadly, we have recovered 20 bodies from the scene and 10 survivors rescued alive and rushed to Mwingi Level Four Hospital,” Ms Kithei told Nation.Africa.

A video footage of the tragedy showed the bus being swept away as it crossed the swollen river as people watch helplessly.

The identities of those who drowned could not be immediately established but police confirmed that among the dead was Ms Jane Mutua, daughter to the bridegroom and three children.