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Kenya floods: 181 killed since March as torrential rain destroys homes, thousands displaced | VIDEO

At least 48 people were killed in the Mai Mahiu area in western Kenya on Monday when a river broke through a clogged tunnel. The widespread flooding, landslides and infrastructure destruction have left hundreds of thousands displaced.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Nairobi Updated on: May 02, 2024 14:49 IST
Kenya floods, people killed
Image Source : REUTERS Residents forced to wade through flood waters in Kenya.

Nairobi: At least 181 people have been killed in the devastating mayhem caused by the floods in Kenya, with torrential downpours destroying homes, roads, bridges and other infrastructure across the region, the government and the Red Cross said on Wednesday. Dozens more were killed in neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Burundi as hundreds of thousands in Kenya were forced to leave their homes.

The death toll in Kenya exceeds that from floods triggered by the El Nino weather phenomenon late last year. At least 48 died in flash floods in the central Kenyan town of Mai Mahiu on Monday and two more bodies were recovered on Wednesday, according to Kenyan Red Cross South Rift Regional Manager Felix Maiyo. Kenya's government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura said the total death toll had risen from 10 to 179.

In Kitengela, 33 km (20 miles) from the capital, Kenya Red Cross workers were helping to rescue residents whose homes were marooned by flood waters. Kenya's national highways authority said it had closed a section of a highway leading to the city and at least three other roads across the country due to flooding and debris.

Condolences from the world

The disaster prompted Pope Francis to speak out in sympathy with Kenyans during a general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican. "I ... wish to express to the people of Kenya my spiritual closeness at this time as severe flooding has tragically taken the lives of many of our brothers and sisters, injured others and caused widespread destruction," he said.

The White House on Wednesday extended condolences to victims' families and said the United States is contributing to response efforts through the US Agency for International Development. Spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US continues to offer resolute support to all those affected by the floods and is monitoring the situation.

More than 190,000 people have been forced from their homes, including 147,000 in the capital Nairobi, according to the president's office. Several parts of the country should expect further heavy rainfall in the coming days. "Those citizens who are living in landslide-prone areas, we are asking you to leave," Kenyan President William Ruto said in a speech while visiting flood survivors in Mai Mahiu.

At least 120 people were killed in Kenya late last year by flooding caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. Those rains followed the worst drought that large parts of East Africa had experienced in decades.

Relief efforts in Kenya

Meanwhile, tourists were evacuated by air from Kenya's Maasai Mara national reserve on Wednesday after more than a dozen hotels, lodges and camps were flooded as heavy rains continued to batter the country. Tourist accommodation facilities were submerged after a river within the Maasai Mara broke its banks early Wednesday.

Locals say rescue efforts have been slow due to a lack of equipment to dig through the debris. The government has urged people living in flood-prone areas to evacuate or be moved forcefully as the water level in two major hydroelectric dams has risen to a “historic high”. The Metrology Department has warned that more rain is expected this week.

Kenya’s Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki ordered the inspection of all public and private dams and water reservoirs within 24 hours starting Monday afternoon to avert future incidents. The ministry said recommendations for evacuations and resettlement would be done after the inspection.

(with inputs from agencies)

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