Strong currents hinder efforts to retrieve car from ocean in Kenya

Divers coming from the water.

By Bernard Maranga, KBC/NECJOGHA

Mombasa, Kenya – The multi-agency team yesterday failed to retrieve the vehicle carrying a woman and her daughter that plunged into the Indian Ocean after an oversight saw it move from the initial point that it earlier been located at, the Nation has established.

Reliable sources, who were part of the team that spent eight hours at the spot where the car had been spotted, told Nation that the vehicle was moved by heavy undercurrents as it was not tied by a float that had been put to the marked position.

“After the car was located by the machines, it was not tied by any rope. A rock like object tied on the pink float was put at the spot as a mark only for us to come and learn that the vehicle moved,” Nation was told.

He explained that, Thursday the team was using two machines including the Remote-Operated Undersea Vehicle (ROV) to get the vehicle and tie it before moving it out, but all the attempts were futile.

“We spent the better part of the day with the Chinese guys who had their machines and another machine which was being used by officials from the South African company, but all failed forcing us to call off the operation,” said the official who is not allowed to speak to the media.

The scene of the rescue operation at the Likoni Channel crossing on Indian Ocean.

On Tuesday, the multi-agency team spotted the vehicle 58 metres deep into the channel, using a KPA remote operated undersea vehicle equipment. A video footage seen by Nation showed two tyres of   the vehicle seen lying upside down, with its windows locked. A review of the tape also shows a human hand seen from one of the car windows.

Officials added that the team of South African divers had by yesterday afternoon failed in their attempt to hook the car, using ropes as the strong under sea currents posed a challenge, and also danger to them.


“The divers have tried their best to hook the vehicle but the undersea currents were too strong. So we had to hold back and restrategise. This is a dangerous mission so we couldn’t risk the divers’ lives,” one of the team leaders in the multi-agency teams told Nation in confidence.

It also emerged that the multi-agency team are also mulling getting a magnetic equipment after their mission to tag the vehicle failed.

“We might be forced to import magnetic equipment to assist in retrieving the vehicle which might take a bit long since it is still difficult to hook the vehicle in that depth,” Nation was told.

Government spokesman Cyrus Oguna confirmed that indeed the strong waves posed a challenge in their effort to hook the car.

“The currents were strong and indeed the divers failed to hook up the car. We hope that tomorrow, we shall have come up with mechanisms to address this challenge so that we can retrieve this vehicle,” Mr Oguna said.


It also emerged that the team from the South African engineering team were not happy with how Kenya Navy was conducting the exercise, causing friction on how the operation was to be carried out.

“The South Africans are not happy with the way the navy is doing this. They feel like they are being pushed to the limits with the Navy doing little,” a source with intimate knowledge of the operations told Nation.

Earlier in the day, the recovery process, which began two hours late was slowed down by what Mr Oguna said was the ‘tight ship traffic’, with the ferries, and two ships crossing before the operation began.

Later, a pontoon carrying the lifting equipment to be used for retrieving the vehicle was brought to the spot where the vehicle is believed to have been located. It was assembled by South African firm, Southern Engineering Company.

The family through its spokesperson Luca Mbati said they had become impatient with the slow process of the retrieval.

“We had our hopes after they told us that they had found the vehicle but is seems to be taking longer than expected we need an explanation of why this is happening,” said Mr. Mbati

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