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Kenya Floods: 46 Killed As Dam Bursts

Kenya Floods: 46 Killed As Dam Bursts

Forty-six people died when a makeshift dam burst its banks in Kenya’s Rift Valley in the early hours of Monday, as torrential rains and floods battered the country. Residents said the accident occurred in the dead of night when the dam burst near the town of Mai Mahiu.

This sent torrents of water and mud gushing down a hill and engulfing everything in its path.

The deluge cut off a road, uprooted trees, washed away homes and sent vehicles flying. The floods left the entire village of Kamuchiri completely devasted.

“We heard what sounded like an earthquake and roars like a moving train,” said Margaret Wangechi, a 52-year-old teacher.

Joyce Ncece, chief officer for disaster management in Nakuru county, said there were 46 bodies at the mortuary. She also warned that the number could increase.

The dead included 20 women and 17 children, she said. Nakuru governor Susan Kihika said 110 people were being treated in hospital.

Rescuers dug through the debris, using hoes and in some cases just their bare hands in a desperate search for survivors.

“We collected some of the bodies held by trees and we don’t know how many are under the mud,” Stephen Njihia Njoroge, a local resident involved in the emergency efforts, said.

The disaster occurred at Old Kijabe dam, a hillside barrier formed naturally over decades after railway construction work by Kenya’s former British colonial rulers. Red Cross has set up a desk at a school to help families find lost loved ones.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said the government had called for inspections of all dams and reservoirs within 24 hours in case there is a need for evacuations.

He also said on X that the authorities would arrest people engaging in “risky behaviour”. This included motorists attempting dangerous crossings and anyone seeking to transport “passengers across flooded rivers or storm water by unsafe canoes or boats”.

His comments came after a crowded boat capsized at the weekend in flooded Tana River county in eastern Kenya. Kindiki said two bodies had been found and 23 people rescued, and that search and rescue efforts were ongoing.

The Kenyan government spokesman said on Monday that 103 people had lost their lives in floods since March, in a statement that did not mention the dam disaster. More than 28,000 households have been displaced and over 185,000 people affected, the statement said.

The education ministry announced on Monday it would postpone the reopening of schools. This is following the mid-term holidays to May 6 because of rains.

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