World/Foreign News

Kenya dam bursts kill at least 42 amidst heavy rain and flood

At least 42 people have been killed in floods in central Kenya’s Mai Mahiu area after a dam burst early on Monday, and the number of deaths could rise, police said as heavy rains and floods battered the country.

Pictures posted on the X accounts of Kenyan media, Kenya Red Cross, and the highway authorities showed scenes of the aftermath of the flooding, with broken trees and at least one car stuck among logs and mud. washing away houses and cutting off a road, with rescuers digging through debris to find survivors.

“We have so far recovered 42 bodies, which include 17 minors, following the early morning incident where a dam burst its banks in Kijabe area and rescue and search operations are going on,” Naivasha police commander Stephen Kirui told reporters from the rescue scene.

Earlier on Monday, the Kenya Red Cross said it had taken several people to a health facility in Mai Mahiu due to flash flooding.

“Forty-two dead, it’s a conservative estimate. There are still more in the mud, we are working on recovery,” the Nakuru governor, Susan Kihika, said.

The dam collapse raises the death toll over the March-May wet season to 120 as heavier-than-usual rain pounds East Africa, compounded by a weather pattern known as El Niño.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Red Cross said it had retrieved two bodies after a boat carrying “a large number of people” capsized at the weekend in flooded Tana River county in the east of the country, adding that 23 others had been rescued.

Video footage shared online and broadcast on television showed the crowded boat sinking, with people screaming as onlookers watched in horror.

On Saturday, officials said 76 people had lost their lives in Kenya since March.

Flash floods have submerged roads and neighbourhoods, leading to the displacement of more than 130,000 people across 24,000 households, many of them in the capital, Nairobi, according to government figures released on Saturday.

Schools have been forced to remain shut after midterm holidays after the education ministry announced that it would postpone their reopening by a week due to “ongoing heavy rains”.

“The devastating effects of the rains in some of the schools is so severe that it will be imprudent to risk the lives of learners and staff before water-tight measures are put in place to ensure adequate safety,” the education minister, Ezekiel Machogu, said.

“Based on this assessment, the Ministry of Education has resolved to postpone the reopening of all primary and secondary schools by one week, to Monday 6 May 2024,” he said.

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