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Survivors search for their belongings after Patel dam collapsed near Solai in Nakuru County| Coastweek

NAKURU (Xinhua) -- Survivors search for their belongings after Patel dam collapsed near Solai in Nakuru County. At least 44 people have been confirmed dead and more than 2,500 others displaced after the earthen dam burst its banks, the police said. XINHUA PHOTOS -ALLAN MUTISO

Kenyans mourn with Patel dam Solai tragedy
victims as magnitude of the disaster unfolds

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A somber mood has engulfed Kenya as the nation comes to terms with the magnitude of a flood tragedy that has so far claimed at least 44 lives.

The incident that happened on Wednesday night was due to heavy rains that led to overflow of over 20 million liters of water from a dam at a flower export farm in Nakuru, some 200 km west of Nairobi.

The water swept away an entire village consisting of over 200 houses and hosted more than 5,000 people as it destroyed everything on its path in minutes.

The flood water mixed with mud buried residents alive, ripped apart houses, overturned vehicles and carried away animals.

There are fears that the death toll could hit 100 as over 40 people are still missing, with rescue efforts currently ongoing.

The tragedy is the latest resulting from heavy rains pounding the East African nation for the past two months.

Several schools have also been destroyed disrupting learning for hundreds of students as some learning institutions also host flood victims.

However, the Wednesday disaster is the worst single case since the deluge started two months ago.

Citizens and leaders have united in mourning the dead and comforting the about 40 people who sustained injuries and are admitted to various hospitals in Nakuru.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i termed the tragedy devastating and on Thursday asked the nation to expect the worst.

"I want to prepare Kenyans mentally that the magnitude of the tragedy is huge.

The teams are likely to recover and retrieve more bodies from the debris and mud," Matiang’i said.

He asked citizens to stop speculations on the tragedy as the government investigates the incident, including claims that the dam was illegal.

"We are handling this matter seriously to find out whether the accident would have been prevented.

"For now, it is an ordinary accident where a dam broke its banks and water flew sweeping families along the path.

"It is a tragedy but it has provided an opportunity to examine the works done on our dams, especially those privately owned," Matiang’i noted.

Following the disaster, citizens in areas hosting dams mainly used for the production of hydropower have called for the reinforcement of the facilities to avert similar tragedy.

Kenya is home to several dams that include Gitaru, Kiambere, Kindaruma and Masinga, among others.

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

However, as the country grapples with the heavy rains, the Meteorological Department has painted a gloomy picture that shows the East African nation could face more crisis.

On Thursday, the department said the rains would continue for the next one month and would be heavy especially in Central, Rift Valley and at the Coast.

The department has ruled out that the heavy rains are El-nino, noting that the country is just experiencing more downpour than has been the case in the past years.
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UPDATES:

Kenya orders police to probe dam tragedy as death toll rises to 44

NAKURU (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s chief public prosecutor on Friday ordered the police to launch investigations into the cause of the dam that burst its banks on Wednesday night, killing 44 people in northwest Kenya.

Noordin Haji, Director of Public Prosecutions, directed Joseph Boinnet, the Inspector General of Police, to carry out thorough probe to establish the exact cause of Patel Dam tragedy that has left 40 people still missing.

"DPP has directed the IG @JBoinnet to carry out thorough investigations to establish cause & culpability if any of Patel Dam disaster & forward resultant investigation file to him in 14 days #SolaiDamTragedy," Haji said in a tweet posted on the ODPP’s handle.

The Patel Dam, located on private farmland and used for irrigation and fish farming, broke its banks and swept hundreds of homes downstream.

Pius Masai, the Deputy Director and Communication Officer at the National Disaster Management Unit, said the extent of the damage was yet to be ascertained and rescue and relief efforts were underway.

"The number of dead bodies is 44, admitted 41, missing 40 as per 19:00hrs," Masai said on Thursday evening, adding that the rescue operation resumed on Friday

The East African nation has been experiencing unprecedented flooding in recent days as torrential rains pound the country shortly after it had come out of a severe drought season marked by hunger and water scarcity.
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Kenya’s rising toll of deaths linked to floods as bursting
of reservoir overwhelms disaster response

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The mounting toll of deaths and destruction wrought by raging floods and bursting of a water reservoir in Kenya has pushed the country’s resilience in the face of disasters to a breaking point, experts have said.

Kenya was again on the global spotlight on Thursday when a private dam located in the northwestern county of Nakuru burst on Wednesday night after a heavy downpour leaving behind a trail of death and devastation.

Government statistics indicated the death toll from collapse of Patel dam located 200km west of the capital of Nairobi reached 44 on Thursday evening and was expected to rise as rescue efforts for the missing intensified.

So far, close to 160 people have died in Kenya as result of heavy downpour that commenced in mid-March and has been accompanied by extensive flooding and bursting of reservoirs.

Fred Matiangi, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and coordination of government led state officials to inspect the damage caused by Patel dam which caved in after torrential downpour.

Matiangi said the government will assist the people displaced by the collapsed reservoir to rebuild their lives through provision of building materials, food and primary healthcare.

"We have set up contingency plans to ensure victims of the collapsed dam are assisted to reconstruct their lives. We are going to help them construct new homes and facilitate their resumption of economic activities like farming," said Matiangi.

He added that Kenya Army officers will join volunteers from relief agencies to intensify the search for missing victims of the burst reservoir whose devastation spread across a 2-kilometer radius.

The bursting of Patel dam built in the middle of a 2,000 acre farm that specializes in growing cut flowers for export, placed additional strain on Kenya’s disaster response strategy in the wake of extensive flooding.

Experts regretted that Kenya’s capacity to respond to natural disasters such as floods remained weak due to policy gaps, under-funding, inadequate technology and trained personnel.

Robert Muthami, a Nairobi-based environmentalist, said lack of preparedness and lethargic enactment of disaster management strategies at the grassroots level is to blame for higher fatalities and economic losses linked to the current flooding.

"We need to increase budgetary allocation to disaster management and more importantly address their root cause which happens to be climate change," Muthami remarked.

"At the county level, we should invest in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimize the impacts of disasters like the floods being experienced in the country," he added.
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SEE ALSO:

Death toll rising to 32 in ‘Patel Dam’ Solai sudden burst tragedy

Floods kill 158, displaces 299,859 others in Kenya since March

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FURTHER READING:

Patel Dam near Solai township, Nakuru County, in Kenya Rift Valley burst amid heavy rains

Kenyan dam bursts causing 'huge destruction' and deaths

Emergency workers in Kenya continue desperate search for survivors after dam collapses

             

 

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