Shakahola cult: Death toll rises to 241 as 34 suspects arrested

Shakahola cult: Death toll rises to 241 as 34 suspects arrested

A file image of Interior CS Prof. Kithure Kindiki.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on Thursday announced that the death toll in the unsettling Shakahola starvation cult has risen to 241.

While giving an update on the exhumation progress in Shakahola forest, CS Kindiki stated that the number rose after five skeletons were recovered by the search and rescue teams, following the suspension of the exhumation exercise on Thursday, May 18.

"The team stumbled on the skeletons on two different days and they are part of the human remains that will be part of the postmortem process," he said.

He added that another victim, who was rescued from the forest died yesterday evening in hospital after resisting to ingest anything despite efforts by health workers to feed them. 

"We tried our best to feed the victim but because they had already been weakened significantly it made them succumb," noted Kindiki.

Meanwhile, 91 persons (including one who died in hospital) have been rescued and 19 victims have already been reunited with their families.

CS Kindiki added that a total of 93 DNA samples have been collected and 34 persons linked to the incident have been apprehended.

According to CS Kindiki, more graves have been identified but will be dug after the postmortem exercise on the 129 bodies is completed.

Kindiki explained that there is need to free up space in the Malindi Sub-County Hospital mortuary, where the bodies are being stored, to allow room for more exhumed bodies. 

"Unfortunately we have evidence of more graves in Shakahola forest therefore the suspension is meant to allow this postmortem exercise of the 129 bodies to make sure that we are able to free this hospital's mortuary," he said.

"We will transfer the bodies to a temporary morgue which has been provided so that other bodies could be retrieved."

He further vowed that the search and rescue mission will be extended to the neighbouring Tsavo and Galana Kulalu areas where he says more victims are believed to be fleeing.

"We are upscaling the operation in terms of use of technology. We must comb that area every millimeter," he said.


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