Nairobi, Apr 25 (EFE).- The death toll among members of a cult who starved themselves to death in the belief they would meet Jesus Christ has risen to 89, Kenyan interior minister Kithure Kindiki confirmed on Tuesday.
“I am informed by those who are responsible that, until now, over and above the figure that was given yesterday at 73, we have been able to discover until this hour another 16 bodies, bringing the total to 89,” Kindiki said, according to local media.
Kindiki did not rule out more deaths in a case that he believes amounts to “terrorism” and “genocide.”
Thirty-four people have been rescued so far, authorities reported.
The Kenyan Red Cross has planned to set up a mobile morgue after the one in the coastal town of Malindi was filled with the bodies of those who died, Malindi hospital administrator Sa’eed Ali said.
At least 210 people have been reported missing in Shakahola near Malindi by residents, according to a Red Cross statement on Monday.
Kenyan president William Ruto condemned the deaths as an act of “terrorism” on Monday.
The president said that cult leader and preacher Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, who allegedly convinced dozens of his followers to starve themselves to death, should be in jail for his “heinous crimes”.
On April 13, Kenyan Police raided the site where Nthenge’s followers were fasting and rescued 15 people. Four of them died as they were being taken to a hospital in Malindi.
Nthenge, who once worked as a taxi driver, is currently in police custody and is expected to appear in court on May 2, along with other 13 suspects.
He was also arrested in March after being accused of the deaths of two children in similar circumstances but was later released on bail.
The controversial pastor founded the Good News International Church in 2003 with the aim to “nurture the faithful holistically in all matters of Christian spirituality as we prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ through teaching and evangelism,” the cult’s website said.EFE