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Let me recover their bodies, Swedish volunteer diver says

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Swedish diver volunteers to recover bodies of 2 victims

  • Philip Mwakio 04th Oct 2019 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Veteran shield diver Volker Bassen displays a shark shield device at his house on South Coast. He is ready to retrieve the body of Mariam Kighenda who died at Likoni Ferry on Sunday, October 3, 2019. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

A scuba diver and whale shark expert has volunteered to scale down the Likoni channel waters to retrieve bodies of two victims who drowned last Sunday after their vehicle plunged into the ocean from a ferry. Volker Bassen, 51, who celebrated his tenth wedding anniversary to his wife Nimo Njonjo, said he was willing to retrieve bodies of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu from the ocean for free. Mr Bassen is the founder of the East African Whale Shark Trust. He is married to Njonjo and the couple has five children.

SEE ALSO :Idea to halt ferry services abandoned

Training schools Volker first arrived in Kenya from Sweden more than a decade ago and has to date established several diving training schools in the country. "A good number of those I trained now work in various dive destinations in Egypt, Maldives, Dubai, Australia and Europe, among others," he said.

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He said he would use his resources to compliment the good work the Kenya Navy divers were doing. "I am lending out a helping hand purely on humanitarian grounds and not asking for anything in return," he added.

SEE ALSO :Four killed as car falls from moving ferry into Likoni channel

Bassen claims he has been involved in rescue missions in different countries and is experienced in the deep water diving. "I have all the equipment required and access to special gases to go that deep. My plan is to attach a rope and a lifting bag, which can be inflated in order to lift the car up to the water surface," he said in an exclusive interview with The Standard at his Diani beach house. Contacted to recover He was the diver contacted to recover the body of a Swiss national in 2012 after a helicopter plunged in Lake Michelson. "I would never attempt such a foolish thing if it was not for my shark shield device. I love deep sea diving. My heart goes out to this family and I am prepared to do it," he said.

SEE ALSO :Victims of Likoni Ferry tragedy identified [Photos]

He reiterated that with a team of other divers already on site with specialised equipment like eco-sounders, it would take them two hours to retrieve the bodies. Another diver Bassen, in the company of Ali Khan, another diver, yesterday visited the site of the accident. He hoped to join the search and salvage team today and deploy his two boats, one of which is equipped with electrics-like sight scanners, GPS and eco-sounders. Bassen said the Mombasa harbour waters and its surroundings was home to bull sharks, one of the few species that can inflict serious damage and even kill. He said a shark shield would prevent that from happening.

SEE ALSO :Likoni Channel: Safety measures to consider and how danger lurks

He said retrieval work was a daunting task. "Bodies of victims decompose fast, particularly in tropical waters," said Bassen. Bassen said it would not be necessary to halt ferry operations when divers take the deep plunge. "We shall chance on low spring tide where visibility will be little, with eco-sounders giving us proper images of what is beneath," he said. "I am truly in love with Kenya," he added. He said in his sea work, he worked closely with his wife, who is a trained lawyer and marine scientist.

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