Hell’s Gate survivor says he watched as wife, a cousin and his wife, were swept away

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 2 Sep, 2019 19:08 | 2 mins read
Hell's Gate
Rescuers retrieved six bodies from the Hell's Gate gorge following flash floods. PHOTO | AFP
Rescuers retrieved six bodies from the Hell's Gate gorge following flash floods. PHOTO | AFP

He watched helplessly as his wife and five other relatives were swept away by flash floods on Sunday at Hell’s Gate National Park.

Mr Ivraj Singh Hayer was still dazed when he narrated his sad ordeal to journalists.

The bodies of his relatives were retrieved on Monday.

Hayer, told AFP that his wife, cousin, his cousin's wife, a niece and a nephew all died.

He said the relatives, numbering 13, paid park fee at about 2 pm and then went on a stroll through the famous Hell’s Gate gorge.

He said he was at first apprehensive and was unsure about their safety, only told be told by one of the tour guides that the last tragedy occurred nearly a decade ago, hence should take it easy.

"Before I decided to take the detour...I was very inquisitive about the safety but they (guides) assured that it was well," said Mr Hayer.

Trouble, he said, started at about 3pm triggered by light rains, but even then the tour guide kept assuring the group that nothing would go wrong.

"Suddenly, the water started flowing downstream and me and my driver held at each other as my relatives were being swept away," he said.

"It's still difficult for me to understand how exactly this happened. We were trying not to get caught by the water but my family, they were taken one by one."

Hayer said a tour guide phoned Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers.

What followed next was one hour of clinging to dear life, Hayer said.

Their driver held on to a stone as Hayer and his niece clung on him.

"It took long for us to be rescued leading to death of the seven," he added.

After the incident, which happened during heavy rains, two survivors from the group reportedly alerted park rangers who sent out a search party and a helicopter.

Hell's Gate, named after a narrow break in its cliffs, was once the tributary of a prehistoric lake and its downhill gorges are prone to flooding.

KWS, which manages the park, said tourists were usually always accompanied by guides who were trained to detect storm water flowing downstream towards the gorge.