Death toll rises to 41 as Kenya dam bursts after torrential rains

2018-05-10 17:42
Picture: AFP

Picture: AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

At least 41 people died after a dam burst in central Kenya, police said on Thursday, as residents described muddy waters ripping through their homes in what one survivor called "hell on earth".

After a severe drought, weeks of torrential rains in Kenya have led to flooding and mudslides that have left 172 dead.

The private Patel dam, used for irrigation and fish farming, burst its earthen banks on Wednesday evening in Solai, near the Rift Valley city of Nakuru, regional police chief Gideon Kibunjah told AFP.

The raging waters wiped out two villages, a local resident said, while power lines were swept away, leaving many without electricity. The search for victims on Thursday afternoon by heavy rains.

"We have 41 people dead from this tragedy," Kibunjah said, adding 20 of them were children. He said the search for victims was still going on.

"It is a disaster because most people were asleep when the tragedy occurred and their houses were swept away."

He said 36 people had been hospitalised.

 'Hell on earth' 

Survivor Ngugi Njoroge said he and his family had been having dinner when there was a "loud explosion of water that washed away our home."

"I was with my parents and my younger brother. I don't know where they are. I was carried away by the water but I was lucky as I clung to a tree until the water subsided," he said from his hospital bed.

"It was like hell on earth."

Miriam Karimi said she could not find any of her three children, including her four-year-old son.

"When we heard noises, we thought it was raining heavily nearby. I'm so confused. I hope they are alive," she said.

A senior police officer at the scene, speaking on condition of anonymity, said emergency workers had spent the night combing through engulfed houses to retrieve bodies.

"We found 11 of the bodies covered with mud at a coffee plantation and these are people who may have been escaping but could not make it due to the force and speed of the water from the flooded dam," he said.

"Most of them are women and children who could not have been able to run fast, and the elderly."

The dam is close to an informal settlement housing casual labourers who work on nearby farms.

The Kenyan Red Cross estimates that up to 500 families were affected by the disaster, which took place some 150km northwest of Nairobi.

 Deadly rainy season 

Weeks of torrential rains in Kenya have led to flooding and mudslides countrywide.

Government statistics released on Wednesday showed that more than 220 000 people have been displaced by flooding as heavy rains hit the country after three consecutive failed rainy seasons had left it in drought.

Since March, at least 21 000 acres of farmland have been submerged in water with an estimated 20 000 animals killed, the Red Cross said last week.

The floods have also destroyed road networks in some parts of the East African country and in some cases the military has stepped in to airlift residents from submerged houses.

The Red Cross appealed last week for $5m to help those affected.

The deluge has affected large parts of East Africa, destroying crops and killing farm animals after a severe drought which had sent food prices and inflation soaring and left millions in need of food aid.

In Rwanda 215 people have died because of floods and landslides since January, according to Philippe Habinshuti of the disaster management ministry.

In Somalia flooding has displaced tens of thousands, while torrential rains have also caused havoc in Tanzania and Uganda.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Read more on:    kenya  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.