Desperate borehole rescue ends in double tragedy

A man died tragically in West Pokot while trying to retrieve a bucket and a broken rope from a borehole for a fee of Sh200.

Then things got worse when a second man, who had offered to retrieve the dead man’s body at a fee of Sh5,000, also met his death inside the borehole.

The tragic incident happened on Tuesday, May 28, at a home in Mathare slums, Makutano Township in West Pokot County.

By Wednesday morning, the recovery exercise was still ongoing with the bodies trapped inside the 50-foot-deep borehole.

The tragedy has put the county government on the spot for poor disaster response, with the recovery team unable to retrieve the two bodies due to lack of appropriate equipment.

It has now emerged that the county government lacks oxygen cylinders needed for such a recovery exercise.

Kapenguria Officer Commanding Police Station, Lukas Wamocha, who confirmed the incident, said a disaster response team from Nairobi had been requested to help retrieve the bodies.

The first victim, a Ugandan citizen aged 40, was a borehole digger in the area.

He had offered to retrieve a rope and a bucket that had dropped inside the borehole.

The second victim, Joseph Rotich, aged 27, had demanded to be paid Sh5,000 to retrieve the body of the borehole digger.

However, it has emerged that the two were both drunk and could have died due to lack of oxygen.

Ms Helen Cheptum, in whose home the tragedy happened, said the rope and bucket dropped inside the borehole on Monday making it difficult for her family to draw water.

With knowledge and clearance from the local security team, she approached the borehole digger and the second victim to help with the retrieval.

She said the first victim had descended into the borehole came out almost immediately.

“I told him not to enter if he felt it was risky. His colleague also cautioned him not to go in again,” Ms Cheptum explained.

However, she said, the deceased insisted on retrieving the bucket.

The homeowner said she got alarmed by the sound of the borehole digger falling into the borehole.

Out of fear, she fled the scene and sought refuge in a toilet, only to learn later that the victim also died while attempting to retrieve the first victim’s body.

Police were later called after a neighbour was informed of the tragedy.

According to the area residents, there have been many cases of people dying in boreholes with the county disaster always failing to respond promptly.

Ibrahim Musa, a resident, said the county government lacks equipment for emergencies like retrieving bodies.

“Those people could have been saved if we had proper equipment. We need faster responses to such incidents. The county government should also train experts for such work,” said Isaiah Kisuri, who is also a resident.

Last year, two people died in a borehole in the same village. Two years ago, three pupils died inside a borehole at Chewoyet Primary School.

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