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At Least 50 Killed in Kenya As Floods Sweep People Away

About 50 people have been killed in villages near Mai Mahiu, Kenya, as heavy rainfall triggered devastating floods.

Approximately 50 individuals have lost their lives in Kenya due to heavy rains and subsequent flooding, according to a statement by a Red Cross official. The tragedy unfolded in villages near Mai Mahiu, as residents were swept away while they slept.

Efforts are ongoing to rescue individuals trapped in the mud, with concerns mounting over the possibility of a higher death toll. The devastating floods have claimed over 100 lives in various parts of Kenya over the past month.

Witnesses described a night of chaos and desperation as residents scrambled to save themselves and others amidst the raging waters and debris.

Deden Muiri, one survivor, said he narrowly escaped death after being engulfed by the floodwaters and witnessing his wife being swept away. He also said his daughter, who knows how to swim, was able to rescue two of his grandchildren.

Rescue operations have been launched by the Kenya Red Cross, with emergency response teams working tirelessly to locate survivors and recover bodies. Anthony Muchiri, the organisation’s emergency response manager, lamented the unprecedented scale of the disaster, noting the widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure. “This is the worst I’ve ever come across in my career,” he said, adding that not only were people’s homes swept away, but also their foundations.

Among the casualties, 17 were reported to be children. Initial reports attributed the sudden surge of floodwater to a burst dam nearby, but the Kenyan Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation later clarified that it resulted from a tunnel which channels the River Tongi under a railway line, becoming blocked with “debris, stones, trees and soil” during the recent downpours. The blockage prevented water from flowing through to move downstream, leading to a lot of water suddenly sweeping over the railway line.

The ministry said, “The area has no dam and the only dam upstream in a different tributary is the Matches Dam which is in good condition and stable.

Numerous homes in the villages of Kamuchiri and Kianugu were destroyed and residents displaced. Peter Muhoho said that most of his neighbours were swept away in Kianugu, a village with about 18 homes.

With more rainfall forecasted, the government has postponed the reopening of schools across the country, as over 130,000 individuals have been displaced and seek refuge in temporary shelters.

Melissa Enoch

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