The government has confirmed the ownership of the vehicle that was discovered by KDF and private divers of Wednesday afternoon at Likoni channel.

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At the time, government spokesperson Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna asked for more time to establish the number plates of the vehicle that was spotted.

“We cannot confirm with certainty that the vehicle we spotted was the one that plunged into the Indian Ocean,” Oguna said, adding that they needed to check the number plate.

The search for Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu has taken 10 days since the unprecedented tragedy, with Kenya Navy working under pressure to retrieve their bodies.

The vehicle, a Toyota ISIS registration number KCB 289C, was seen some 58 metres deep in the Likoni channel.

Goverment spokesperson, Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna said the operation to retrieve the body will start at 9am Thursday.

"At around 3am, we had announced that we have seen an object that resembles a car. For several hours, we have been scanning the area and we have finally established that it is a vehicle. We have found the number is KCB 289C," said Oguna.

"We have confirmed through the underwater cameras that this is the same vehicle. However, we've not been able to ascertain if the bodies are still in the vehicle or not," said Oguna.

He said they are however optimistic that the bodies will be found in the vehicle.

"We have high hopes that the bodies will be found inside that vehicle. The operation to retrieve the vehicle will start at 9am on Thursday. Now, we cannot get into the ocean becuase it is already dark," said Oguna.

Wednesday's development is a reprieve to the goverment following criticism over emergency preparedness. The Kenya Navy had been accused of sluggishness.

The family of the victims had hired private divers from South Africa following help from Mombasa Governor Ali Joho. They have been working with KDF team.