The death toll from a grisly road crash in western Kenya rose to 52 on Saturday as rescuers worked to clear the wreckage where more victims are feared trapped.
In one of the deadliest accidents in Kenya, a truck carrying a shipping container veered out of control and ploughed into multiple other vehicles and people at a busy road junction on Friday evening.
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“The toll has risen to 52 after three more people succumbed to their injuries in hospital,” local police commander Geoffrey Mayek said.
Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen told reporters during a visit to the scene of the disaster an investigation was launched to establish the cause.
Mayek said about 30 people were injured in the accident on the highway between the towns of Kericho and Nakuru.
“Thirty people have been seriously injured and rushed to various hospitals. The numbers could be more but as of now we are sure about 30,” Mayek said.
Video footage showed the mangled wreckage of multiple vehicles, doors torn off minibuses and motorbikes crushed into chunks of twisted metal.
On Saturday, large crowds of onlookers were at the scene where the overturned container was stuck in a ditch, debris was strewn across a wide area, including car seats, piles of fruit, a damaged axel and even a lone black boot.
Peter Otieno, a driver who witnessed the accident said: “I saw a speeding oncoming trailer. I swerved and escaped hitting him head-on. The person who was behind me thought I wanted to buy something. He overtook me and that is when he was hit. The trailer went off the road and hit other vehicles.
“I saw about 20 bodies with my own eyes. There were other bodies that were under the vehicle.”
‘The country mourns’
The death toll makes the accident one of the most deadly on Kenya’s roads in recent years. Last year, 34 people died in central Kenya when their bus veered off a bridge and plunged into a river valley.
“My heart is crushed,” Kericho governor Erick Mutai said on Facebook. “It is dark moment for the people of Kericho. My heart goes out to the families who have just lost their loved ones.”
The number of people killed on Kenya’s roads has increased in recent years, according to government statistics.
“The country mourns with the families who have lost loved ones in a horrific road accident in Londiani,” Kenyan President William Ruto wrote in a tweet.
“It is distressing that some of the fatalities are young people with a promising future and business people who were on their daily chores.”