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No, photo not Swedish diver Bassen during Kenya’s Likoni Channel recovery mission

On 29 September 2019 a mother and her young daughter drowned after their car reversed off a ferry crossing Kenya’s Likoni Channel on the Mombasa coastline, and plunged into the ocean.

The victims were identified as 35-year-old Mariam Kighenda and her four-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu.

Their bodies were finally retrieved after 13 days, on 11 October 2019, with several efforts having failed to yield fruit. 

The accident and its aftermath drew public outrage. Kenyans have questioned the navy and ferry service’s preparedness for disaster.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said he regretted the incident.

During the initial retrieval efforts, there was some hope when Kenya’s KTN News reported that scuba diver Volker Bassen, a Swede who has lived in Kenya since the early 1990s, said he could retrieve the bodies within two hours.

There were soon Facebook posts showing a white man in a submariner suit.

“Swedish diver doing his portion. This is what Kenya cannot do. Give him a word,” one of the posts reads.

“Swedish diver Captain Volker Bassen in line of duty. Its already past 2hrs we pray for you,” reads another.

“Live from Likoni : Swedish diver Volker Bassen finally into the ocean to retrieve the bodies. Doing this for free, wish him well!!!!,” says yet another Facebook post. Other posts claimed the same.

Reverse image search

But a reverse image search quickly finds the photo on a blog, with the photo credited to the US Navy National Archives.

The National Archives Catalog shows the published image with the caption reading: “A view from onboard the Italian Navy SALVAGE SHIP (ARS) MM ANTEO (A 5309), showing Diver Second Class (DV2) Franco Ellenico, inside a high-tech Atmospheric Diving Suit (ADS) as it is lowered into the Mediterranean Sea.”

The photo of the Italian diver was taken on 9 August 2000 when the ship was conducting training operations in support of the North American Treaty Organization.

The photo is available on the stock photo sites websites Getty Images and Shutterstock, credited to the US Navy. – Dancan Bwire


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