Deaths, 'huge destruction' after Kenyan dam bursts

Glen Norman
May 10, 2018

Officials in Kenya say a dam has burst on Wednesday after heavy rain, causing "huge destruction", killing at least 20 people.

"The water has caused a huge destruction of both life and property". Local officials say neither the extent of the damage nor the death toll are yet clear.

The Kenyan Red Cross tweeted that 39 people had been taken to the hospital as a result of the busted dam. Police chief Joseph Kioko said, "We have recovered... bodies and many people are missing".

The mega dam is located inside the farm of prominent farmer Mansukul Patel in Solai.

Kenyan authorities and humanitarian organizations airlifted stranded residents to safety and provided aid to isolated communities after weeks of heavy rain and landslides.

Local leaders are now seeking to find out whether the farmer was licensed to erect those dams, amid concerns on the condition of the remaining two which are also said to be full, our correspondent says.

The area around Nakuru is on the edge of Kenya's main flower-farming region - a major source of foreign exchange and employment for East Africa's biggest economy - and is dotted with irrigation reservoirs.

Among villages affected are those in the farmlands of Nyakinyua, Endao, and Arutani where hundreds of people were displaced.

Even before this week's dam-burst, rains had killed 132 people and displaced 222,000 in Kenya alone, according to the government.

Since March, at least 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of farmland have been submerged in water with an estimated 20,000 animals killed, the Red Cross said last week.

The extreme weather comes at a time when the country is also trying to tackle a cholera outbreak as well as an epidemic of the mosquito-linked chikungunya virus.

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