Kenya: Probe ordered into dam tragedy, as death toll climbs

A general view shows the dam that burst its walls overrunning nearby homes in Solai town near Nakuru Kenya
A general view shows the dam that burst its walls overrunning nearby homes in Solai town near Nakuru Kenya
Author

12 May, 2018

A search and rescue operation is under way in Kenya after a deadly dam collapse, which killed at least 50 people with dozens more still missing.

This comes as reports suggest that the owner of the reservoir, which burst its banks on Wednesday night, killing several people and washing away the entire Solai village, may have ignored safety standard requirements. "The Nairobi office of the EU's humanitarian aid department (ECHO) stands ready to support efforts to provide emergency assistance", read the envoys' statement.

But none of them had a permit, a Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) spokesman said.

The floodwaters also swept away power lines and other buildings, including a school, according to local witnesses. Their house was among those which were swept away by the raging waters.

The calls came as the government started to empty two dams at the affected Patel farm, which were found to be structurally unsound.

The tragedy was made all the more devastating since the dam burst at night when locals were sleeping and could not escape.

The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued about 40 people so far. Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui said that 40 people have been reported as missing.

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Wang'ombe disclosed that they had raised the matter with Patel as the dams looked weak as they were constructed long ago and had not been cleared by state engineers.

Yesterday, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered immediate investigations into the cause of the tragedy.

Describing Wednesday's incident that claimed the lives of more than 50 people as a natural calamity that can happen anywhere in the world, Jayakumar said the Patel family was deeply saddened.

The latest figures from the government shows that more than 220,000 people have been displaced by flooding as heavy rains hit the country. My neighbour was killed when the water smashed through the wall of his house.

The last 72 hours have been marked with tragedy after the Patel Dam burst it walls leading a disaster in Solai, Nakuru county.

Solai Boys High School which was extensively damaged during the incident, was closed indefinitely after Education Permanent (PS) Secretary Belio Kipsang visited the school. The farm has existed for nearly 60 years and the dam which collapsed has been there for nearly 20 years. "If I was to talk about the things we have done for the community I will take a lot of time... just find out from the people", he said.

The other two dams are in good condition, although they also contain a large amount of water, due to storms.


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