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Update: Exhumed bodies in ‘Starve-to-meet-Jesus’ Kenyan Church rises to 83

Kenyan investigators on Tuesday exhumed 10 more bodies from mass graves linked to a starvation cult, bringing the total number of victims to 83, an AFP journalist at the scene said, as fears grow of the toll spiking even further.

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.

Kenyan investigators on Tuesday exhumed 10 more bodies from mass graves linked to a starvation cult, bringing the total number of victims to 83, an AFP journalist at the scene said, as fears grow of the toll spiking even further.

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.

Prevail Inegbenose

Prevail Inegbenose is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Spark Media & Entertainment Ventures, the Publisher of Spark News Daily - Nigeria's most sought-after online newspaper in Government, Politics, Sport, Entertainment and Religion. Prevail Inegbenose studied Mass Communication from the prestigious Auchi Polytechnic Auchi and graduated in 2007. He is an experienced journalist with 16 years of active and practical journalism. Prevail Inegbenose is the Lead Pastor, House of God Int'l - Rest Tabernacle, Abuja - Nigeria. Tel: 08039564796.

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