Death toll now 16
2,000 houses damaged
PM visits affected areas
Grief tears, pain and nagging fear engulfed this Lake Victoria- side municipality yesterday as thousands of residents thronged the Kaitaba Stadium to pay last respects to their fallen relatives. While the sickening memory of Saturday’s 5.7 Richter scale magnitude earthquake still hangs around, the death toll as of yesterday was 16.
Official reports from the region indicated that apart from the deaths, 170 people still remained at the hospital beds fighting for their lives while 83 others were treated and discharged.
Though the actual cost of damages was yet to be established as we went to press yesterday evening, initial official reports indicated that about 840 residential houses crumpled while 1,264 developed cracks.
The Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, yesterday addressed of the deceased, the injured and hundreds of Bukoba residents at the stadium. He assured the tremor’s victims who lost their properties, including residential houses, that the government will ensure that they get the necessary assistance to enable them continue to lead a decent life. “Dear fellow Tanzanians; we gather here in grief following this tragic accident, which cost lives of 16 Tanzanians and many more injured.
We must remain united and together during this period. On behalf of President John Magufuli, I pray for those who died in the accident and also wish a speedy recovery for those who got injured.
I also appeal to all wananchi to assist those in need of shelter and food,” he said. Witnesses who talked to the ‘Daily News’ hinted that a number of those who lost lives in the horrifying natural catastrophe incident found themselves under the debris of fallen buildings. Some of them, according to James Kamugisha, a taxi driver operating in Bukoba Business District, were pinned to the ground by fallen rubble.
“They shouted for help, however, everyone around was busy with his or her own life,” he said. The deceased were identified as Nickson Everson (34) from Hamugembe Ward, in Bukoba Municipality, Paskazia William (81), Jonas Muyombo (36) from Hamugembe Ward, Monica Jonathan (56), Alicia Alex (32), Lucia Alex (12) both from Hamugembe Ward, Saada Abdallah (26) and her baby (2), from Kyaka in Misenyi District.
Others are Revelina Respicius (14) from Kanyigo Ward, in Misenyi District, Eirene Kato (10), Aneth Augustine (6) from Rwome area in Bukoba Municipality, Anna Josephat (63) from Kanyigo in Misenyi District, Nelson Olestus (3), Areus Msabaha (9) from Bugandika, in Misenyi District and John Zacharia (35) from Minziro Ward in Misenyi District. Narrating the ordeal, Ms Happiness Apolinary, who is nursing her wounds at the Kagera Regional Hospital, said while in her bedroom, she heard the house trembling and before she had jumped outside the wall collapsed on her.
Despite serious injuries she sustained on her back and on the head, she thanked the hospital’s staff for doing all within their ability to save her life alongside other victims. Ms Advela Respicius, who lost her son narrated that it was such a big loss, that she will never forget. Ms Respicius said in her entire life, Saturday’s incident was the first ever devastating event she experienced.
The seemingly depressed mother, however, thanked the government for stepping in and covering some of the funeral-related costs. Mr Majaliwa also visited and consoled some of the injured people who were admitted to the Kagera Regional Referral hospital.
An expert from the Geological Survey of Tanzania, Mr Gabriel Mbogoni, told the ‘Daily News’ on Saturday that the Saturday afternoon tremor was the most intensive earthquake ever experienced in the country before.
According to Mr Mbogoni, this was the second earthquake to hit Tanzania in recent years, recalling the last one, which was reported in Bariadi District in Simiyu Region (then part of Shinyanga Region) in 2000. He said normally, the earthquake never hits once.
He predicted the possibility of hitting again the very same area after a couple of days - scientifically known as aftershocks. Responding on whether the institution released an alert on the happening, Mr Mbogoni said normally it is impossible for authorities to issue an early warning.
He observed that even developed countries have failed to do so. l Meanwhile, MARC NKWAME reports from Arusha that in the wake of the major tremor that rocked the Lake Zone over the weekend, two institutions of higher learning both in Tanzania and the United Kingdom are preparing to start monitoring future tremors through strategically placed measuring gadgets.
The Arusha-based Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in conjunction with the University of Glasgow in Scotland will soon embark on a special project to plant seismic sensors in sensitive areas of the country to monitor future tremors.
But while that was revealed by the NM-AIST Vice Chancellor, Professor Burton Mwamila, during the recently held, Nelson Mandela Week of Innovations in Arusha, the actual progress towards the tremor monitoring project, which should have started around this time, is yet to be revealed.
“Give us time; maybe in two or three days, so that we can come up with an official update on the issue,” stated the Nelson Mandela University’s Spokesperson, Mr Karimu Meshack, when speaking to the ‘Daily News’ over the weekend. Now to avert future natural disastrous surprises, the Arusha based Nelson Mandela Institute of Science and Technology plans to start monitoring such land activities in future.
NM-AIST will achieve the goal reportedly through planting seismic sensors across the nation, especially around specific land features such as active volcanoes and mountains where tremors usually originate.