People clean up a road after landslides caused massive destruction of infrastructure in West Pokot County, Kenya, on Nov. 23, 2019. Kenyan officials on Saturday confirmed that 37 people had died as a result of landslides that hit northwestern county of West Pokot following heavy downpour on Friday night, according to local media. (Photo by Robert Manyara/Xinhua)
People clean up a road after landslides caused massive destruction of infrastructure in West Pokot County, Kenya, on Nov. 23, 2019. Kenyan officials on Saturday confirmed that 37 people had died as a result of landslides that hit northwestern county of West Pokot following heavy downpour on Friday night, according to local media. (Photo by Robert Manyara/Xinhua)

Kenyan authorities on Friday called off a search mission to recover 17 missing bodies of villagers of a mudslide at a border in the northwest region.

A total of 18 deaths have been reported after strong floodwaters caused by heavy rains uprooted and swept away Chesogon market, a police station and two local schools in West Pokot-Elgeyo Marakwet counties.

“Some of the bodies retrieved more than 20km away from Chesogon area where the mudslide happened. We have been looking for 35 people who could be accounted for when flooding occurred. We have found 18 bodies and 17 are still missing,” Kenya Red Cross said.

“We have decided to end the operation. The 17 missing people after the mudslide are buried in the debris and it has been difficult to retrieve them,” said Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya, who led the rescue mission.

Natembeya cited heavy rains and difficulties in retrieving bodies buried under boulders and mud.

The regional commissioner together with senior security officials has camped in the area since Sunday to coordinate the rescue mission.

Natembeya said a DNA test will be done in some of the bodies to identify them because they were dismembered when they were swept away.

“A DNA test will be conducted on some bodies because they were dismembered after swept away. The only bodies positively identified are those of two police officers,” said Natembeya. Enditem

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