A total of 83 victims have been confirmed dead after Kenyan pastor, Paul Mackenzie Nthenge asked them to starve to death to see Jesus.
According to AFP, Police have spent days scouring the Shakahola forest near the coastal town of Malindi after receiving a tip-off about a cult led by Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, who urged his followers to starve to death in order to find God.
The 10 bodies recovered on Tuesday included three children, as emergency workers clad in white jumpsuits exhumed their remains from shallow graves and also found two emaciated survivors, according to the AFP journalist.
The grim discovery has sent shockwaves through the country, prompting President William Ruto to pledge a crackdown on “unacceptable” religious movements.
As the fatalities mounted, authorities at the state-run Malindi Sub-County Hospital warned Tuesday that the morgue was running out of space to store the bodies and already operating well over capacity.
“The hospital mortuary has a capacity of 40 bodies,” said the hospital’s administrator Said Ali, adding that officials had reached out to the Kenya Red Cross for refrigerated containers.
It is believed that some followers of the Good News International Church could still be hiding in the bush around Shakahola and at risk of death if not quickly found.
Hussein Khalid, executive director of the rights group Haki Africa that tipped off the police, urged the authorities to send more rescuers to scour the 325-hectare (800-acre) area of woodland for survivors.
“Each day that passes by there is very high possibility that more are dying,” he told AFP.
“The horror that we have seen over the last four days is traumatising. Nothing prepares you for shallow mass graves of children.”
Investigators told AFP they found bodies squeezed into shallow pits — with up to six people inside one grave — while others were simply left outside on the ground.
Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome told reporters on Monday that 29 people had been rescued and taken to hospital.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki has announced plans to visit the site on Tuesday, while Ruto has vowed to take action against rogue pastors like Nthenge “who want to use religion to advance weird