'Cigarette butt' ignited Kenya pipeline

2011-09-12 13:07
Nairobi – More than 100 people were burnt to death and a similar number were taken to hospital after a petrol fire ignited by a cigarette butt broke out in a densely populated slum in the Kenyan capital, local media said on Monday.

Police said a large number of people had been burnt to death, but that no official count had been undertaken because authorities were battling the fire before doing so.

Local television channels aired images of smouldering skeletons as the fire raged through the slum. Badly burnt slum dwellers staggered in a daze, skin peeling off their faces and arms.

Citizen television quoted an official at the scene who said he had counted more than 120 dead bodies. Capital FM radio said the dead numbered more than 150.

"The scene is bad, there is a large number of people burnt to death," deputy police spokesperson Charles Owino told Reuters.

"There are many bodies, we are yet to count them."

Owino said the fire started after a fuel tank at a depot belonging to the Kenya Pipeline Company spilled fuel into an open sewer flowing through the slum.

Residents of the slum tried to scoop up the fuel from the burst pipe and other from the sewer, but were burnt when the petrol ignited after someone tossed a cigarette butt into the sewer, Owino said.

Firefighters scrambled across the corrugated rooftops of burning shacks to pour foam on petrol that flowed down the slum's muddy alleyways. Ambulances ferried dozens of wounded to nearby hospitals.

"There is an informal school inside the slum, they have all been burnt," Daniel Mutinda, a spokesperson the Kenya Red Cross, said.

Read more on:    kenya  |  east africa
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