Missing persons reports now at 34

January 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Thirty-four families have so far reported their missing next of kin to the Kenya Red Cross Society, following a raging inferno that razed the Nakumatt Downtown supermarket.

Kenya Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Manager Davis Okoko said on Thursday that the number of females and males reported missing were equal.

He said there were also two children aged two and three missing.

“Some of them are saying they were on phone with the next of kin up to the very last minute and they could hear explosions but you know that is word of mouth, I cannot verify it because it was not recorded. But now we have to go by the information we are being given and follow all the leads that we are receiving,” Mr Okoko said.

Nakumatt Operations Manager, Thiagararajan Ramamurthy confirmed that 98 staffers had been accounted for but efforts were ongoing to confirm the whereabouts of five others, who went missing following the deadly inferno on Wednesday afternoon.

In a press statement, Mr Ramamurthy said the organisation had prioritised the comfort and recovery of all suffering from shock and trauma following the incident.

“We are organising for their psychological counselling. We shall also provide the necessary support to all the security agencies and relief organisations on the site, to enable them speedily carry out their mandate,” he stated.

The statement further indicated that the cause of the fire was yet to be established.

“We also wish to confirm that the building was fully fire safety compliant and had been installed with some advanced fire/smoke detectors and fire fighting equipment,” it stated.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Operation Centre is expected to begin digging into the debris late Thursday.

Mr Okoko said the operation was to ascertain whether there were any people trapped in the building.

“The fire is now more or less contained and it is just the smouldering debris that is smoking,” he stated.

One person was also injured, while police tried to disperse the crowd gathered outside the shopping mall early Thursday causing a protest from the crowd.

“The police man has just hit him for no particular reason instead of telling him to move,” shouted one man from the crowd.

“They were dispersing people then the policeman hit him and he was just standing there,” said another.

The injured person was rushed to the Kenyatta National Hospital by the Kenya Red Cross, where he was treated and discharged.

“It was just a minor cut and it was an area where it always bleeds a lot because it was just above the eye. But it was a soft tissue injury,” assured Mr Okoko.


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