Shock of being unable to identify inferno victims – father

Mr Jack Ogello still hopes his firstborn daughter ran somewhere when fire broke out in a dorm at Moi Girls School, Nairobi, on Saturday morning and that she is not among the nine who died.

He is hoping against hope that Marcia Eunice, his only daughter, is alive somewhere and that he will eventually see the improved grades she promised to bring home at the end of the term.

But that hope rests on quicksand.

When he learnt of the fire, he drove to the school with his wife.

He had used the same route to escort her to school five days earlier.

That Monday, he recalls, a determined Marcia told him to wait for a surprise at the end of the term.

The drop she registered in term two, she told him, would be a thing of the past.

But on Saturday, grades were not the issue of concern between Mr Ogello and his wife.

Having been alerted of the fire by a friend some minutes to 7am, all they wanted to know was if their daughter was safe.

“When we arrived at the school, she was classified as missing. She was missing among the people in hospital and in the roll call that was taken,” Mr Ogello narrates.

Because a teacher had earlier informed him that there were no fatalities, what followed was a frantic search in all hospitals around the area.

Some of the hospitals they visited include an Aga Khan branch close to the school, Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi Women’s in Adams Arcade and Hurlingham, Coptic and Mbagathi — but Marcia was nowhere to be seen.

“We decided to go to school and hear what they were saying,” he told the Nation Monday.

It took time before parents could be allowed to see the bodies at the school.

The Embakasi Estate resident was among the few who were allowed to go past a police barricade to view the bodies before they could be taken to Chiromo Mortuary.

What he saw was heart-wrenching.

“They were burnt beyond recognition; you couldn’t identify anyone,” he recalls.

He only saw two bodies and because he was told that all the others were in that state, he decided against his earlier intention of seeing all the bodies.

The process of identifying the bodies is expected to take 14 days and parents are expected to give DNA samples today.

But Mr Ogello, an engineer, feels 14 days is too long.

“I was hoping they could hasten the process. Even if they don’t have resources, let them make it as fast as possible so that we can complete the process of grieving and burying.”

Marcia, 15, is one of Mr Ogello’s two children, with the second aged seven years.

Her grandfather William wonders why a window grill, said to have been used by some survivors, was too narrow to fit all the girls.

Mental health, an equally likely cause, is often overlooked.

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