Kenya’s government has launched an investigation into the cause of the dam burst on Wednesday night, killing 48 people in a western county, an official said on Friday.
The incident was due to heavy rains that led to overflow of over 20 million liters of water from the Patel dam at a flower export farm in Nakuru County, west Kenya, some 200 km west of the capital, Nairobi.
The water swept away an entire village consisting of over 200 houses where more than 5,000 people lived, as it destroyed everything in its path in minutes. The deadly tragedy has also left more than 40 people still missing and affected another 2,500.
As we speak now, the inter-ministerial team and the investigative agencies are on the ground.
“As we speak now, the inter-ministerial team and the investigative agencies are on the ground. And as a ministry, WARMA (Water Resources Management Authority) is under clear instructions to cooperate with the investigative agencies. So that we know they are able to get to the root of the cause of this problem,” said Simon Chelegui, local commissioner for water and health safety.
Rescue and relief efforts are currently underway. Besides rescue teams, a helicopter is also deployed to search for survivors trapped in ravaged communities. But continuous rain is hampering rescue efforts.
Villagers said they suffered huge economic losses from the disaster.
A local villager who makes a living by renting his properties,John Karanja said the Wednesday disaster destroyed all his houses and one of his tenants was killed by the flood.
“It made a really loud noise when the dam wall broke. So I rang my tenants, asking them to leave immediately, because the flood was coming. They all hurried to leave. But a girl, who went back to retrieve some luggage, drowned. When I arrived here, I found that my houses were damaged. Everything was washed away. We suffered a huge loss,” said Karanja.
The East African nation has been experiencing unprecedented flooding as torrential rains pounded the country in recent days, killing over 132 people and displacing over 220,000.