Mr Ivraj Singh Hayer was still in a state of shock as he explained his miraculous escape from jaws of death.
His wife, five other relatives and a tour guide were not as lucky and they were washed away by torrent floods. Their bodies were found on Monday morning.
At 2.12pm on Sunday, according to Mr Hayer, they paid some fee and decided to take a quick walk through the famous gorge at the Hell’s Gate National Park.
Ol-Jorowa Gorge at Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha, Nakuru County. PHOTO | FILE
“Before I decided to take the detour…I was very inquisitive about the safety but they (guides) assured that it was well,” said the mourning Mr Hayer.
With 13 family members in tow, they trudged on, eager to sample natural marvels at the historic gorge.
At around 3pm slight showers triggered alarm bells, with Mr Hayer expressing his reservation but was told the last tragedy occurred almost nine years ago.
“Suddenly, the water started flowing downstream and me and my driver held at each other as my relatives were being swept away,” he said.
“He (a guide) made several distress calls to the KWS main office but the response was not forthcoming,” said Mr Hayer.
For close to one hour, they clung to their dear lives, with the driver holding on a stone while Mr Hayer and his niece clung on him.
“It took long for us to be rescued leading to death of the seven,” he added.
For residents of the low lying Suswa area along the Naivasha-Narok highway, occasional floods sweep across their semi-permanent houses anytime it rains upstream.
But on Monday morning, they woke up to a rude shock after learning that the bodies of five family members swept away by torrent floods were discovered within the vicinity.
Some of their members had joined security agencies in the rescue and search mission, but the particular incident unnerved them.
People gather at Oloirouwa in Suswa where bodies recovered from Ol-Jorowa Gorge were taken for identification by relatives on September 2, 2019 . PHOTO | MACHARIA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP
“It is a shocking incident which has left us devastated,” said a resident Jackson Shaa.
The flash floods also swept several of their livestock.
What shocked them more was the fact that the bodies were pushed 30 kilometres downstream.
Hell’s Gate flash floods
Rescuers carry one of the bodies recovered from the Ol-Jorowa Gorge at Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha, Nakuru County on September 2, 2019. PHOTO | MACHARIA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP
“Charcoal burning activities should be checked,” said Mr Shaa, suggesting that surface run-off and soil erosion have become worse in the area.
Mr Shaa joined hundreds of local residents at central point where the bodies were being kept to witness the unfortunate events.
Meandering through the shrubs, the rescuers brought the bodies into the open as devastated relatives awaited to receive them.
Forlorn-looking locals watched as the bodies brought in white body bags were loaded into the waiting police vehicles and taken to the Naivasha Sub County Hospital mortuary.
Hell’s Gate flash floods
Relatives of victims of the Ol-Jorowa Gorge flash floods assist Kenya Red Cross officials identify bodies at Oloirouwa in Suswa on September 2, 2019. PHOTO | MACHARIA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Six of the victims are members of one family.
The Hell’s Gate, which lies south of Lake Naivasha, and which was once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the Rift Valley, experiences floods because of the gorges that lie downhill.
Even when it has not rained, water from other regions of Nyandarua and Nakuru Counties flow to the gullies in Hell’s Gate in huge volumes.
Hell’s Gate, which was established in 1984, has in the past claimed the lives of several domestic and international tourists.
In 2012, eight members of a Nairobi church youth group were swept away by flash floods.