Authorities said that the death toll of a starvation-suicide cult in Kenya had reached 300, and many more reported deaths are expected after local officials said more than 600 people are missing from the area.
Coastal regional commissioner Rhoda Onyancha said that 19 more bodies had been exhumed from mass graves in a property allegedly owned by pastor Paul Mackenzie in Kilifi County on the coast of Kenya, according to Africa News.
Mackenzie allegedly told his followers of the “Good News International Church” that they would meet Jesus Christ in heaven if they starved themselves.
Police began an investigation after receiving a tip that dozens of people were starving themselves on the order of a pastor. They rescued about 95 emaciated people from the property and arrested Mackenzie.
Some of the parishioners died on the way to a hospital.
Authorities said that 65 of the rescued parishioners began a hunger strike to protest their detention at a shelter. They were charged with attempting suicide and moved to a jail on Monday.
Relatives of Mackenzie’s followers said that he had predicted the end of the world to come on August and then moved it to April 15.
A former deputy preacher of the religious sect said that followers were told to starve children first by leaving them in the sun and claimed that some were buried while they were still breathing.
Interior Minister Kindiki Kithure said that more mass graves were going to be exhumed by investigators.
On Wednesday, some of Mackenzie’s associates reportedly collapsed during a hearing at a law court after refusing to eat for ten days. Mackenzie and his associates, along with his wife, are likely to face charges of mass murder.
Mackenzie has claimed that he is the target of hostile propaganda by his former colleagues.
Kenyan President William Ruto has compared Mackenzie to a terrorist.
Here’s a local news video about the horrific incident: