At Least 47 Dead After a Dam Burst in Kenya

Rescue work continues in the affected area, while many people are still missing. The authorities have warned that the total number of victims could increase in the coming hours.

At least  47 people have died and many remain unaccounted for after bursting the walls of the Patel dam in Solai, a town in southwestern Kenya, after several days of torrential rains.  The dam broke down on Wednesday night, causing the flooding of nearby crop fields, as well as several schools, a shopping centre and other buildings.

Authorities have reported that rescue operations are still underway. At least  40 people trapped in the mud have been rescued by the Kenyan Red Cross on Wednesday night, although rescue teams fear there could be many more trapped victims, including children, and have warned of the possibility of increasing the number of victims. dead, since many people are still missing.

A “great destruction”

According to testimonies collected by local media  Daily Nation, witnesses heard an “explosion” minutes before the water began to erupt, destroying hundreds of houses.

Veronica Wanjiky Ngigi, 67, told Reuters that she was preparing a tea when her daughter-in-law alerted her that the dam had exploded and that they should take refuge somewhere high. “It has been a sea of water, my neighbour has died when the water has hit the walls of his house, he was blind and could not run, another neighbour has also died, all our houses have been ruined,” Wanjiky said.

Solai is located in the county of Nakuru, an area with an important agricultural activity that exports a great variety of products to Europe and generates great benefits and jobs in the country. “The water has caused great destruction, of lives and property, and we can not determine the full extent of the damage,” said Nakuru Governor  Lee Kinyajui.

Rainy season

The Patel dam is part of a mega-dam located at the top of a total of three privately owned reservoirs that serve to supply the farms and agricultural lands of the area. The other two dams are in good condition, although they also contain a large amount of water, due to storms. Up to 20 families have been evacuated from the zones to avoid new disasters.

Aerial view of the rescue work in the area affected by the floods in Solai.

After a severe dry season last year, East Africa has been affected by several months of torrential rains that have forced the displacement of thousands of people in  Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda. In Kenya alone, the rains have caused 132 deaths and displaced 222,000 people in recent weeks, according to government data.


Source: El Periodico