Death toll in Kenya explosion hits 82

2011-09-13 15:23
Nairobi - The death toll from a gasoline pipeline explosion in Kenya's capital has risen to 82, a Red Cross official said Tuesday, as residents of the Nairobi slum waded through a sewage-filled river in search of more bodies.

"We want to do a quick search through the rubble to just ensure that we've been able to collect all the bodies and after that we will take a transit walk and search through the stream of water to ensure there are no more bodies left," said Red Cross coordinator Pamela Indiaka.

Residents were also searching the river themselves, wading through the sewage and charred bodies with only plastic gloves for protection and using sticks to feel for bodies in the murky water.

Indiaka said six more bodies were recovered on Tuesday from the sewage-filled river after one more was found late on Monday, bringing the total number to 82.

Mortuary officials want all the bodies to be collected together to try to spare families the trauma of repeatedly viewing the badly burned corpses. Only 10 of the 22 they currently have are identifiable, said senior mortuary attendant Sammy Nyongesa.

Among the anxious relatives waiting to view the bodies was Cleophas Busolo, who said he had searched several hospitals for his 17-year-old son.

"I am panicking because I am not sure if he is dead or alive, I am not very sure," said Busolo, a night watchman. "If I had found his body, I would be sure of what to do."

Danger of another explosion

The head of the state-owned Kenya Pipeline Company said Monday's explosion was caused by an over-pressurized pipeline. The gasoline inside leaked out into a sewer and the river running through the slum and then ignited. No one from the company was available for comment on Tuesday.

Some residents are already seeking to rebuild their ruined homes despite the danger of another explosion. On Tuesday, schoolgirls in green uniforms were sifting through the wreckage for nails.

"My father asked me to collect nails, so that he can start to rebuild our house," said 10-year-old Evelyne Njeri as she placed the nails in a white bucket. "This is where our house was, this is where it burned down. And when the fire started my mother was caught in the fire and as we speak now she is in the hospital for treatment."

Some said they had nowhere else to go and if the pipeline had been properly maintained, the tragedy would not have happened.

"I blame the pipeline corporation because if they had properly inspected the pipeline none of this would have happened," said Jane Mbinya, who lost her home and her husband in the fire.

- AP
Read more on:    kenya  |  east africa
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